Posted on: December 22, 2016
[ARCHIVED] Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office 2016 Major Accomplishments
The High Priority Offender (HPO) Program focuses resources on the small percentage of the criminals who cause a large percentage of the crimes.After a year of preparation, Prosecutor Lindquist formed the HPO Unit in 2016. We are using data, intelligence, and modern technology to identify these high priority offenders. As of November 1, 487 offenders were activated into the program. These 487 offenders averaged 26 arrests, 10 felony convictions, and more than three prior trips to prison. The average length of all felony sentences for high priority offenders is nearly three times the state average. Our office is increasing public safety by identifying high priority offenders early in the process and seeking high bail and longer prison sentences. We are also saving taxpayer money on jail costs by sending offenders to the Department of Corrections to serve their sentences.
The Elder Abuse Unit secured a $370,985 grant from the Department of Justice to support a comprehensive approach to addressing elder abuse in Pierce County. We were one of nine counties in the country to receive this grant because we are a leader in both the prosecution and prevention of elder abuse since Prosecutor Lindquist formed our Elder Abuse Unit in 2011. The project brings together partner agencies, and includes local law enforcement agencies, service providers, and prosecutors to enable quick responses to victim safety concerns, connect victims to vital services, preserve evidence and apprehend and prosecute the perpetrator where necessary.
Gang violence is down 60% since 2012. The Gang Unit uses vigorous and innovative methods to reduce gang violence, including conspiracy charges and successful sweeps of particularly violent gang members. Prosecutor Lindquist formed the unit to combat an uptick in gang violence so that Pierce County did not return to the gang violence of the 1990s. The cases are complex and involve multiple crimes and victims. Through prosecution, as well as intervention and prevention programs with our partners, the Gang Unit has made Tacoma and Pierce County safer for everyone.
The Human Trafficking Unit is protecting young victims through vigorous prosecution, developing expertise, and collaboration with law enforcement and the community. In 2014, we charged 5 cases. In 2015, we charged 55 human trafficking cases, and are on track to charge nearly the same number in 2016. In December of 2015, our office worked with law enforcement in an undercover operation called “Net Nanny” which resulted in the arrests of ten people by undercover detectives who posed online as underage girls or parents selling their children for sex. Our office recently secured a conviction against the first of the “Net Nanny” defendants to go to trial.
The Prosecutor’s Office collaborated with the Tacoma Police Department to reduce burglaries. For the second year in a row, burglaries have been reduced. In 2015, burglaries were reduced by 22%. In 2016, the reduction was four percent in Tacoma. The Prosecutor's Office is currently collaborating with The Pierce County Sheriff's Department to reduce burglaries countywide. Our Homicide Cold Case Unit collaborates with multiple local law enforcement agencies in efforts to hold accountable those who could not be brought immediately to justice. Using advances in DNA technology, our office advises law enforcement during investigation and then prosecutes offenders. This brings justice to the community and the families and friends of victims. For example, our office secured a First Degree Murder conviction in a 1993 case where the victim was stabbed multiple times in her home while two young children slept. Advances in DNA technology identified the perpetrator.
The Civil Division defends Pierce County against baseless lawsuits which saves the county millions of dollars. While it costs money to defend against meritless lawsuits, it saves money in the long run by discouraging more lawsuits. For example, in 2016 the county won a major victory against a woman who was charged with sex crimes involving children. She sued for $5 million dollars, but eventually had to drop her lawsuit with no payment from the county as the truth came out through the county’s vigorous defense. Entities that consistently pay nuisance value settlements for baseless lawsuits invite future litigation, while entities that vigorously defend against nuisance value lawsuits discourage future litigation. When lawsuits have merit, the Civil Division negotiates reasonable and fair settlements.
Mental Health Court has its first graduate November 2016. The diversion program, similar to Drug Court, was created in January 2015 by a team, which included the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The program was created in an effort to address the mental health needs of defendants whose criminal behavior is attributed to their mental health issues. A successful participant must be in the program for a minimum of 18 months, graduate through multiple phases and transition away from dependence on the team to an independent, healthy, law-abiding life.
The Family Support Division is on track to collect over $1.3 million in child support from parents who have willfully avoided their child support payments.
Our office continues to monitor the placement of sex offenders into Pierce County from the Department of Corrections and the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, remaining vigilant so that Pierce County does not receive a disproportionate share of offenders, as we did in the past.
For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265,