Monday, April 14, 2014

In the Line of Duty

There have been some stark realities recently about what it means to be in law enforcement. 

NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra was killed while running into an apartment building to save lives after the call of a fire, which was set by a 16 year old arsonist.

Officer Guerra left behind four children and a wife after making the ultimate sacrifice. Head over to Huff Post for some incredible pictures of how the NYPD mourns one of their own.

The suspect, Marcell Dockery, is 16 years old, and in New York State that means he will automatically be tried in supreme court. He is currently charged with murder in the second degree.

In North Carolina, the father of an Assistant District Attorney was kidnapped and beaten over the course of four days until the FBI tracked his location and rescued him. Five people were implicated in the kidnapping, including an inmate convicted by the ADA. The inmate apparently smuggled a cell phone into his prison and was able to orchestrate the kidnapping using it.

The murder trial for one suspect accused of killing two prosecutors is in the beginning process of jury selection in Texas.

Even in my own office, there have been two times in the last month when prosecutors have been threatened over the phone. Also, a defendant on trial tried to strike the ADA trying him with his car.

The further I move along in my career as a prosecutor, the more serious the cases become. The more serious and far-reaching the investigation, the more dramatic the consequences for the accused and usually the more violent the targets. It's reality. Most days I don't think about it, but there are definitely times I look over my shoulder a few times when I'm leaving work late at night while I'm on trial with a murder case.

It's no secret that the police and prosecutors follow social media, listen to phone calls, and have other investigative means. My name is mentioned frequently by defendants I'm prosecuting. It's always disconcerting, but there have never been legitimate threats. Usually, it's just jokes to their friends.

It's a reality of choosing to fight for victims in court. Intimidation is one of the biggest problems I face in  persuading witnesses to testify. Unfortunately, it seems to be spreading to the public servants themselves. This isn't to say defense attorneys and judges are immune from the intimidation. There are many cases we investigate where defendants are stalking or harassing their attorneys, or a defendant obtains the cell phone number for a judge somehow and leaves horrible messages. Technology has made intimidation easy and anonymous.

This last month has served as a reminder of the dangers we all face in trying to do the right thing. The intimidation doesn't drive me away. It just strengthens my resolve to find justice. The suspects that have the means and choose to carry out their threats are the ones we need to focus on. Their level of intimidation is pervasive on the streets and will make life better for the citizens who have to put up with it every day.

1 comment:

  1. It's unfortunate that some people have to face so much risk just to do their jobs. Thank you for doing yours.