Page 1

PIERCE COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

COMMUNITY REPORT


Message from our Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist As your Pierce County Prosecutor, it is my job to help keep our community safe. Keeping our community safe is not our only duty in the Prosecutor’s Office, but it’s our main duty. In 2009, we created a Gang Unit to address increasing violence. We used vigorous and innovative methods to reduce crime, including conspiracy charges and successful sweeps of particularly violent gang members. As a result, gang violence is down 60 percent in Pierce County. In 2011, we created an Elder Abuse Unit to protect vulnerable adults. We are leaders in both the prosecution and prevention of elder abuse. In 2015, we received an award of $370,985 from the federal government to lead a comprehensive approach to reduce elder abuse. We were one of only nine counties in the entire country to receive such an award. In 2015, we formed the High Priority Offender (HPO) Unit to focus resources on the small percentage of criminals who cause a large percentage of crimes. We use data and modern technology to identify these high priority offenders. Similar data-driven prosecution programs have been successful back east. Our office studied and adapted these models for Pierce County. We are the first Prosecutor’s Office in the State of Washington to develop such a program, and we are already seeing positive results. Alternative courts, such as Drug Court, Veteran’s Court, and our relatively new Mental Health Court, continue to be a success in Pierce County.

Drugs, mental health issues, or some combination drive many of the crimes we see. By balancing accountability and compassion, we offer help to non-violent offenders willing to seek treatment. Our Civil Division gives legal advice to county agencies and vigorously defends Pierce County against baseless lawsuits. 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. Our Family Support Division holds parents accountable for supporting their children and collected over one million dollars in child support last year so that taxpayers did not have to shoulder that burden. I am proud of the people working in the Prosecutor’s Office whose public service extends into our community – they serve on local councils, boards and commissions and donate time and money to a variety of charitable organizations that strengthen our community. All three divisions of the Prosecutor’s Office – Criminal, Civil, and Family Support - are committed to our culture of public service. All my best for a safe year.

Mark Lindquist Pierce County Prosecutor


Contents In this report you’ll find detailed information about the work of the 209 people in the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who serve Pierce County every day by pursuing justice and protecting our community.

Table of Contents Message from our Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist ........................... 2 Office Overview ........................................................................................................ 5 Community Initiatives ............................................................................................. 6 High Priority Offender (HPO) .................................................................... 7 Elder Abuse ................................................................................................. 8 Reducing Burglaries .................................................................................. 9 Gang Violence ............................................................................................. 10

Human Trafficking ...................................................................................... 10 Civil Division Defends Against Baseless Lawsuits .................................. 11

Fair Share and Staying Vigilant ................................................................. 11

Alternative Courts and Treatment ......................................................................... 12 Victim Services and the Courthouse Dog .............................................................. 14 Financial Overview ................................................................................................... 17 Public Service Culture ............................................................................................. 18 Core Values ............................................................................................................... 19


Office Overview The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office is comprised of the following divisions: The Criminal Division protects the public and makes our community safer. This division reviews more than 22,800 criminal cases every year and includes a Homicide and Violent Crimes Division and Major Crimes Division.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist attending swearing-in ceremony of new deputy prosecutors in Judge Sussman’s court.

Upholding the rights of victims is a top priority for the Prosecutor’s Office. Victims and witnesses of crimes committed in Pierce County can contact the Victim Witness Assistance Services Division for help. Specially trained advocates provide services to thousands of victims and witnesses every year, including accompanying them to court hearings and/or interviews, assistance in applying for Crime Victims’ Compensation, completing a Victim Impact Statement for the court, referrals to local social service agencies and programs, requests for restitution for financial loss incurred as a result of the crime, and written notification of charges, scheduled court dates and victims’ rights.

Specialized felony trial teams include Homicide, High Priority Offender, Elder Abuse, Gangs and Human Trafficking, Special Assault (which includes Child Sexual Assault and Rape), Robbery, Assault and Arson, Identify Theft and Property Crimes (which includes Burglary), Drugs, Vehicular Homicide, and Felony Domestic Violence. The Misdemeanor Division prosecutes misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses committed in unincorporated Pierce County and the incorporated city of Edgewood. Domestic Violence and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants are the two primary areas of prosecution. Our Domestic Violence Unit is housed at the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center which provides comprehensive services in one central and safe location in downtown Tacoma. The Family Justice Center comprises many community and government partners, including the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Civil Division provides legal advice to county officials and represents the County’s interests in court, including vigorously defending against baseless lawsuits. The Family Support Division protects the best interests of children, establishes parentage, and enforces child support, collecting over one million dollars in child support every year, thereby reducing the burden on taxpayers.

The Juvenile Division adjudicates juveniles who commit felonies and misdemeanors. The division works collaboratively with the Juvenile Probation Department’s Diversion Unit for intervention and services.

The Investigative Services Division conducts field investigations and interviews, locates witnesses, serves subpoenas, and monitors the placement of offenders, including sex offenders, by the Department of Corrections and the Special Commitment Center. Remaining vigilant is critical to ensuring that offenders are returned to their county of first conviction and that Pierce County is not receiving a disproportionate share of out-ofcounty offenders into our community.

The Appeals Division defends all criminal convictions challenged on appeal, and oversees our office’s Ethics Committee, providing training to deputy prosecutors in accordance with prevailing state and federal law.

5


Community Initiatives Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist makes it a priority to stay connected to the community and focus on the issues of greatest concern to the people of Pierce County. The major initiatives of the office address emerging issues, innovative approaches to protecting the public, and ongoing efforts to make Pierce County a safer place to live.

6


High Priority Offender (HPO) The High Priority Offender (HPO) Program focuses resources on the small percentage of the criminals who cause a large percentage of the crimes. Prosecutor Lindquist formed the HPO Unit in 2015, after a year of preparation. We are using data, intelligence, and modern technology to identify these high priority offenders. The primary goal of the High Priority Offender Program is to reduce overall crime in Pierce County. While the program is new, and in its early phase, we are already seeing positive results. Similar data-driven prosecution programs have been successful in New York and other east coast cities. We studied their models and adapted them for Pierce County. As of December 31, 2016, 487 offenders were activated into the program. These 487 offenders averaged 26 prior arrests, 10+ felony convictions, and more than three prior trips to prison.

“We are keeping our community safe by identifying high priority offenders early in the process and seeking high bail and longer prison sentences. “ - Prosecutor Mark Lindquist

Since their arrest, 70 percent of the high priority offenders have remained in custody, as compared to roughly 20 percent of non-high priority offenders, which has prevented them from committing additional felonies. More than 80 percent of the high priority offenders have been sentenced to prison. This is more than double the state average of 36.6 percent. The average length of all felony sentences for high priority offenders is nearly three times the state average.

Featured Case

State of Washington Shane Bryant Sweetman In early 2016, High Priority Offender (HPO) Shane Bryant Sweetman was charged with 19 crimes, including burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property and trafficking stolen property. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from the department’s Proactive

7

Property Crimes Unit, located stolen trailers, ATV’s, vehicles and tools at the defendant’s residence in Graham. Sweetman has 10 prior felony convictions and was held in lieu of $750,000 bail. He pleaded guilty to all 19 counts and was sentenced to more than nine years in prison.


Elder Abuse Prosecutor Mark Lindquist formed the Elder Abuse Unit in 2011. In 2015, 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 leaders in both the prosecution and prevention of elder abuse. In October 2016, our office hosted the kickoff of the Pierce County Elder Abuse Project. There were approximately 80 attendees at the kickoff, representing both the official partners and other organizations interested in stopping elder abuse.

concerns, connect victims to vital services, preserve evidence and apprehend and prosecute the perpetrator where necessary. Our office and other partner agencies have received training that they will share with local law enforcement and victim service agencies on how to better identify and respond to elder abuse.

The project brings together nine official partner agencies in a coordinated community response team. These agencies include local law enforcement, service providers, and prosecutors to enable quick responses to victim safety

Featured Case

State of Washington V. Larry Lee In June of 2016, Larry Lee was sentenced to more than 18 years after a jury convicted him of second degree murder for the death of Philip Carter, an elderly man in his care. Medical care professionals in that case called it one of the worst cases of neglect they had seen. Successful prosecutions of caregivers for neglect are rare, and this is the first time a caregiver was successfully tried for murder in Washington state.

8


Reducing Burglaries The Burglary Reduction Initiative was launched in January 2015 in conjunction with Tacoma’s strategic plan to become one of the safest cities in Washington. The Prosecutor’s Office collaborated with the Tacoma Police Department in 2015 to reduce burglaries in Tacoma. In 2015, burglaries were reduced by 22 percent. In 2016, the reduction was an additional 4.1 percent.

Featured Case

State of Washington v. Nicholas James McCulloch In August 2016, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Nicholas James McCulloch with residential burglary and malicious mischief. A woman called police after seeing a man in her mother-in-law’s backyard. Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find McCulloch in the home. Deputies found a plastic tub containing checkbooks, jewelry, wallets, electronics and other items taken from the house. As a High Priority Offender with 10 prior felony convictions, McCulloch was held in lieu of $450,000 bail, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to six years in prison for these and other crimes, including two other burglaries.

9


Nothing but respect for the men and women who seek justice for the people of Pierce County. I know your job isn’t easy. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication. Facebook comment from a Pierce County resident

Gang Violence

Featured Case

South Tacoma Drive-By Shooting:

Gang Violence is down 60 percent 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 in 2010 to combat an up-tick in gang violence so that Pierce County did not return to the gang violence of the 1990s. Through prosecution, as well as intervention and prevention programs with our partners, the Gang Unit has made Tacoma and Pierce County safer for everyone.

Human Trafficking The Human Trafficking Unit protects children and other victims and holds perpetrators accountable through vigorous prosecution, developing expertise, and collaboration with law enforcement and the community. Our Human Trafficking deputy prosecutors work with law enforcement and task forces in the preparation of large operations. These cases are very complex and often have several defendants with gang ties and multiple crimes and victims.

10

In 2016, three Tacoma gang members were riding in a car near South 45th and South Puget Sound Avenue when they spotted and fired at suspected rivals standing next to a convenience store. An innocent bystander was standing nearby with friends and was shot once in the head and killed. The gang members were convicted and received long prison sentences.


Civil Division Defends Against Baseless Lawsuits 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. 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.

Fair Share & Staying Vigilant In years past, a disproportionate number of offenders being released from Department of Corrections’ custody were released into Pierce County, increasing our crime rate and endangering community safety. In 2007, the Washington State legislature passed Senate Bill 6157, which contained a “fair share” provision requiring that, with some exceptions, an offender released from the Department of Corrections should be returned to the county of their first felony conviction.

Our office was instrumental in the passage of that bill and the fair share provisions. In the years since, our office has remained vigilant so that Pierce County does not receive a disproportionate share of offenders from the Department of Corrections. We also monitor the release of offenders from the special commitment center on McNeil Island and patients from Washington State Hospital.

McNeil Island

11


Pierce County Alternative Courts & Treatment The Prosecutor’s Office is dedicated to pursuing justice, keeping our community safe, and serving the community. In some instances, the community is best served by alternatives to incarceration. Pierce County’s alternative courts provide services to those who pose a lesser risk to our community and whose criminal activity is driven by underlying problems that are addressed through rigorous treatment under the supervision of the courts.

Participants of the drug court program at their graduation.

Felony Drug Court The Pierce County Felony Drug Court Program is the second largest drug court in Washington State and began operations in October of 1994. Eligible defendants who choose to enter the program agree to complete a rigorous program of treatment and court monitoring for approximately one year. The primary goal of the Pierce County Felony Drug Court is to reduce recidivism and the need for incarceration by offering an alternative to jail and probation through

12

participation in an assessment, education and treatment for nonviolent, drug-addicted defendants that will take a minimum of twelve months. Pierce County Drug Court has successfully graduated over 1,400 participants who have gone on to live healthy and crime free lives.


Veterans Treatment Track The Veterans Drug Court Track is designed to help veterans who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This program is supported by case managers and treatment providers through Pierce County Superior Court, Pierce County Alliance, and the Pierce County Veterans Bureau.

These services include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment, housing, mentoring and VA compensation eligibility. Other resources are available depending on the veteran’s discharge eligibility. Eligible veterans must complete all program requirements, which will include participation with veteran mentors, chemical dependency and a mental health assessment.

Additional services include assisting clients in finding Veterans Administration resources through our partnership with Washington State Veterans Affairs and Veterans Administration.

Mental Health Court Mental Health Court had its first graduate in November 2016. The diversion program, similar to Drug Court, was implemented in January 2015 by a team, which included the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

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 program was created in an effort to address defendants whose criminal behavior is attributed to their mental health issues.

13


14


Victim Services and Kiley, the Courthouse Dog Entering a courthouse can be a confusing or frightening experience, especially for children. When words are not enough, courthouse dog Kiley is available to provide a calming and reassuring presence to victims and witnesses, and thereby assist in the truth-seeking process. The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office has a four-legged, cuddly team member working in the Victim Witness Unit (VWU). Kiley, a service dog, joined our team in February of 2012. Kiley and her handler (VWU Supervisor Michelle Walker) provide services to victims and witnesses of violent crimes. The specialized training Kiley has received includes behavioral situations, calming young, adult and elderly victims, learning to work with multiple clients and remaining focused when working with otherwise distracting noises. In addition to attending court proceedings, Kiley also attends interviews and meetings with her handler, and she comforts witnesses and victims as they prepare for their court testimony.

Kiley with Prosecutor Mark Lindquist 15


Staff & Financial Overview

1

209

111 97

Total Employees

Elected Prosecutor Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Support and other staff including legal assistants and paralegals, our Investigative Services staff, and victim advocates.

$5,054,435

Total Grant Funding Elder Abuse Grant | $370,985

As part of our emphasis on protecting vulnerable adults, the Prosecutor’s Office sought out and secured a $370,985 grant from the Department of Justice to address elder abuse in Pierce County. The grant funds a project to increase coordination among law enforcement, service providers, prosecutors, and the courts to improve our community’s ability to respond to elder abuse. We were one of only nine counties in the country to receive this grant.  

Special Assault Victim Witness Grant | $74,793 Upholding the rights of victims is a top priority for the Prosecutor's Office. Grant funding for Victim Witness Advocates doubled in 2016 allowing the Prosecutor’s Office to add a victim witness advocate position. Our specially trained advocates provide services to thousands of victims and witnesses each year.  

16


2016 BUDGET

$30.6 MILLION

Budget by Program

How is the money spent?  

Civil – 15.5% Family Support – 12.65%

86%

Juvenile – 5.9%

14%

Misdemeanor – 11.2% Office-wide Support – 4.9% Felony – 49.84%

Salaries and Wages = 86% of our total budget $26,320,673 Supplies, equipment and other services, including witness travel and expert witnesses.

17


Public Service Culture Service to the community is a priority for the Prosecutor’s Office both in and out of the office. Staff from the office actively participate in programs such as the Veterans Family Law Clinic, fundraising drives for the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, and an “Adopt a Family” program that provides items to families in need during the holidays. In addition, staff from the office are involved in the following organizations, boards, and councils:

Air Force Reserves American Inns of Court Camp Seymour Advisory Council Central Valley School District Crystal Judson Family Justice Center Partners Department of Social and Health Services’ Child Protection Team Extended Foster Care Clinic Fife Police Reserve Academy Gig Harbor Fire Department Helping Other People with Epilepsy Volunteer Program Hilltop Artists Lawyers Helping Hungry Children Loren Miller Bar Association Military and Civilian Domestic Violence Response Group Neighborhood Clinic National Association of Legal Secretaries

Pierce County Ethics Commission

Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association

Pierce County Minority Bar Association

Tacoma Police Department’s Child Abduction Response Team

Pierce County Regional Child Abduction Response Team Washington Women Lawyers - Pierce Chapter Pierce County Young Lawyers Rainbow Center Rebuilding Hope Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County Rotary Safe Streets Neighborhood Watch

Tacoma Pride Festival Awards Committee Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Volunteer Legal Services The Tahoma Center Building Tulalip Tribe United Way University Place Presbyterian Church Urban Grace Church

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School

Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs

Superior Court Judges Association, Juvenile and Family Law Committees

Washington Homicide Investigators Association Advisory Board

Tacoma Center YMCA Advisory Council

Washington Leadership Institute

Tacoma Community College Board of Trustees

Washington State Bar Association Criminal Law Section and Disciplinary Advisory Round Table

NW Intertribal Court System

Tacoma Community College Foundation Board

OPTUM Behavioral Health Citizens Advisory Board

Tacoma Group Health Leadership Advisory

Pierce County Committee Against Domestic Violence

Tacoma Human Services Commission

18

Western Washington Wrestling Officials Association


Core Values JUSTICE We vigorously protect the rights of the people of Pierce County and hold offenders accountable. We support crime victims and their families.

EXCELLENCE We maintain the highest standards of personal and professional performance in service to the community.

TEAMWORK We work respectfully with each other, all members of the justice system, and the community to promote the public good.

ACCOUNTABILITY We believe in open government and accept responsibility for the decisions we make. We are fiscally sound, innovative and operationally efficient.

INTEGRITY We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards in carrying out our responsibilities.

RESPECT We treat our co-workers and all members of the community professionally, fairly and with dignity.

19


MISSION PURSUING JUSTICE REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE SERVING OUR COMMUNIT Y

Address: 930 Tacoma Avenue South Room 946 Tacoma, WA 98402

Online www.pierceprosecutor.org facebook.com/piercecountyprosecutor twitter.com/PCProsecutor

2016 Community Report  

Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

2016 Community Report  

Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office