Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Albany Citizens Police Academy - Week Three - DA's Office and Probation and Parole

Tonight was the third week of the Albany Citizens Police Academy. We learned about the role of the District Attorney during the first half of class. The second half focused on probation and parole.
Deputy DA Douglas Marteeny spoke to us about the role of the District Attorney's office in the criminal justice system. In Linn County, prosecutors prosecute everything rather than be divided into departments based on crimes.
He spent a considerable amount of time discussing the role the public plays in preventing and fighting crime. The public often makes law enforcement aware a crime has been committed and act as witnesses during the prosecution of the crime.
He emphasized that the best defense against criminal behavior is for children to be raised in good homes whethere they're encouraged to be law abiding citizens. He gave several examples of fathers and sons who both end up as criminals.
He talked about how cop shows get so much wrong. DAs do not investigate and rarely visit crime scenes though they may arrive on scene for some major crimes. Generally, the case load is too large for crime scene visits and they trust the police to do their jobs.
The DA reviews the evidence and police reports and determines whether or not to prosecute. The police's bar is probable cause - more likely than not the person committed the crime. The DA's standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt" that there person committed the crime. In some instances, the DA chooses simply to not prosecute if the burden isn't met. In other cases, he'll send it back to law enforcement officers to gather more evidence.
People can get arrests and some crimes expunged from their records by filling out a form, paying a fee, and having the case reviewed.
He explained that when criminals know there are empty jail beds, they are less likely to commit crimes. The potential for punishment is a detterent.
Linn County requires domestic violence cases go to trial within 45 days. This helps to get the family back on track and minimizes the opportunity for witness tampering.
After Measure 11, setting mandatory sentences for a host of crimes, was enacted in 1995, violent crime dropped significantly.
Deputy DA Marteeny answered questions and shared anecdotes with the class. Some were heartbreaking. Some were touching. Some were suprising. All illustrated his points well.
Mindy Sprague and natalie Michael discussed their work in parole and probation. They make sure the offender is compliant with the conditions of his/her release. There are standard conditions and specific conditions in each case.
Being a probation/parole officer requires attending the Police Academy where they receive defensive training and firearms training while learning the rules and laws that govern their work.
Probation/Parole Officers carry tasers, OC spray, gun, handcuffs, a badge, and a radio. They wear bulletproof vests and are required to keep their training up-to-date including computer training, firearms training, and CPR certification.
Mindy and Natalie talked about their jobs and shared a few stories. They passed around a bulletproof vest so we could examine it more closely. They also passed around materials used in collecting samples for drug tests.

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