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League of Women Voters of California
|Political Philosophy for Michael L. "Mike" Gressett|
A) Establish Accountability and Accessibility
I plan to implement my "Justice System Accountability Program" (JSAP) whereby the decisions being made within Contra Costa County's Prosecutorial and Judicial systems will be publicly accessible via the Internet.
JSAP, will include the disclosure of where the taxpayers' money is being spent and the results of those expenditures in the District Attorney's Office. This will enhance the interaction between the District Attorney's office and the Board of Supervisors in that funding deficiencies that may exist in the prosecution effort will be readily apparent.
Public disclosure via JSAP will also protect against decisions being made on the basis of self-interest rather than the public interest. The public will be empowered to make informed choices regarding County decision makers, thereby encouraging County decision makers to provide substantive information rather than sound bites and signs when soliciting the support of Contra Costa County citizens.
B) Prioritize Quality of Life
(1) Serious Violent Felonies
Plea-bargaining in this area must be curtailed as these types of crimes present the greatest danger to the safety and well being of our citizens.
I plan to initiate a "real" No Plea-Bargaining Policy, including maximum prosecution of murder, rape, armed robbery and other violent felonies. In order to monitor and ensure the execution of this Policy, I plan to implement my "Justice System Accountability Program" (JSAP) whereby the decisions being made within Contra Costa County's Prosecutorial and Judicial systems will be publicly accessible via the Internet.
(2) Gang Activity
Beginning in 1994, I have advocated for the development of a gang task force to address the serious gang problems that have existed since 1990. These problems include violence, organized drug sales and theft, community and witness intimidation, educational disruption, and other related activities. I plan to develop an organized program in this area, which will include the following:
(a) Developing gang expertise within the District Attorney's Office by educating and training prosecutors and DA investigators in the specific obstacles involved in the prosecution and investigation of gang related cases.
(b) Working as a team with local police agencies to identify specific problem areas and individuals in their communities. Within this framework we can target, and systematically eliminate the leadership hierarchy of these gangs. By aggressively dismantling gang leadership we can significantly decrease the odds of gang survival.
(3) Quality Of Life Crimes
Crimes that affect the quality of life of the citizens of Contra Costa County include, identity theft, elder and domestic abuse, auto theft, drunk driving, and environmental offenses. While all of these crimes require attention, identity theft is one area that needs immediate consideration and action.
Identity theft is the fastest expanding area of crime that our Office is the least prepared to deal with. With the enormous advances in technology in the last decade, it has become easier for criminals to obtain social security, bank account, and credit card numbers and use this information to falsify identification material in order to steal the wealth and credit of our citizens. Criminals have found this method to be easier and less risky than direct contact crimes, i.e., armed robbery, burglary, etc., because the victims are unaware that they have been victimized for a period of time, and the penalties and odds of a successful prosecution are less. However, the impact on the victims of these crimes can be severe and long lasting.
Although these crimes are often treated as a single incident of check forgery, etc., it is becoming clear that these types of crimes are often part of an organized effort to sell and distribute the stolen information throughout the state and/or country.
In order to effectively combat and prosecute these types of crimes, law enforcement will need to utilize technology to create a database whereby information can be compiled and shared with other District Attorney's Offices and various agencies such as the U.S. Postal System's mail theft division. Such a database would enable law enforcement to cross-reference evidence collected during a single local incident with similar evidence collected in other areas. This information could then be used to locate, target, investigate, and prosecute the organized sources of these crimes.
In addition, law enforcement organizations should be encouraged to lobby the legislature to increase the penalties associated with these crimes.
I plan to prosecute these types of crimes to the fullest extent possible, and develop a task force to increase the investigative response to such crimes and promote the efforts described above.
C) Develop an Effective Law Enforcement Team
I believe more cooperation is necessary and can be achieved in all areas of the law enforcement process. The District Attorney's Office must work with police agencies to resolve individual issues within their local communities. I plan to encourage cooperation by the following methods:
(1) Developing a "Team" Concept
As District Attorney I will promote an attitude within the office that all law enforcement agencies should work as a "team" where police and prosecutorial efforts are designed to work together effectively and efficiently. I plan to achieve this objective by, among other things, showing respect for officers and their agencies' resources by reducing unnecessary court appearances. In addition, police agencies should have some input before a decision is made in the plea-bargaining process. By showing respect for police agencies, the District Attorney's Office will in turn gain the respect of those agencies. Thus, a team concept can be developed.
(2) Increasing Communication
Technology has not been utilized in the District Attorney's Office. I will establish a direct communication link by computer to instantly exchange case information between police agencies and the District Attorney's Office.
In addition, monthly visits with front line police officers (rather than coffee once a month with only the Police Chiefs) will be implemented. The purpose of these meetings will be to increase the Office's understanding of "street" issues and, in turn, increase police officers' awareness of current detention, and search and seizure issues.
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