Innovation for Public Safety
In conjunction with traditional prosecution, Pete believes that public safety includes educating the citizens of our community and providing services for appropriate offenders to address the factors that contribute to criminal behavior. The following are some of the programs that Pete uses to achieve these goals:
- Human Trafficking Unit
- Juvenile Sexting Program
- Internet Child Sex Offender Program (CHEEZO)
- Community Outreach
- Veterans Treatment Court
- Adult Mental Health Court
- Juvenile Mental Health Court
- Elder Abuse Unit
- Economic Crime Unit
- Special Victims Unit
- Victim/Witness Services
- Recovery Court
- Diversion Services
- Citizens Academy
- Low Risk Offender Program
- Domestic Violence Fast Track Program
HUMAN TRAFFICKING UNIT
Pete created the first unit in a DA’s office dedicated exclusively to human trafficking. This unit was created in response to sex trafficking of children. A tougher approach to this contemptible behavior was required to punish offenders and protect our children who get caught in their traps. Because of this, Jefferson County is a leader in the fight against human trafficking.
JUVENILE SEXTING PROGRAM
Pete is recognized as a leader in addressing sexting. In response to the challenges created by teens that engage in sexting, the DA’s Office developed the Sexting Solution Program to address the specific issues faced by teens and their parents. This educational program is conducted within the DA’s Office and keeps the teens out of the justice system. This program has been used as a model for other offices to copy.
(CHEEZO) INTERNET CHILD SEX OFFENDER PROGRAM
This unit takes a dual approach to protecting children online. We aggressively pursue those predators who lure children on the Internet, but we also believe it is critical to present our Internet safety programs to children, parents and teachers. The investigators use a mascot named “Cheezo” to help connect with the kids and to spread important safety messages. The investigators assigned to this unit are some of the leading experts in this field in the nation.
SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
The prosecutors, investigators and victim witness specialists in the Special Victims Unit work together to obtain justice for children who have been killed or assaulted. These children are our most vulnerable victims and deserve, demand and receive aggressive advocates in our office. Pete has increased the resources for this important effort.
ELDER ABUSE UNIT
This unit was created in response to a rapidly aging population and out of concern for the unique vulnerability of seniors. Two lawyers, an investigator, a paralegal, and a forensic accountant staff the unit. The EAU works closely with law enforcement agencies, Adult Protective Services, and others who are committed to holding accountable those who victimize our senior citizens. Community outreach and education are also key components of the unit.
ECONOMIC CRIME UNIT
The ECU investigates and prosecutes complex white-collar crimes such as racketeering, embezzlement, securities fraud, drug trafficking rings, and identity theft. The ECU also manages the two grand juries in the First Judicial District.
VETERANS TREATMENT COURT
Pete helped create Veterans Treatment Court in 2014 to offer alternatives to traditional prosecution for veterans of the U.S. military. The VTC provides appropriate treatment and support by identifying and addressing substance abuse, mental health issues, or combat related injures faced by our veterans. Many of the veterans within the court work with a counselor in the DA’s office who is also a veteran.
The drug court, otherwise known as Recovery Court, takes a collaborative approach to promoting safe communities and reducing recidivism through accountability while rehabilitating substance dependent offenders. Pete enjoys attending graduations celebrating the achievements of the participants. Pete is also committed to sustaining the success of this program.
JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURT
The Juvenile Mental Health Court addresses mental health issues underlying delinquent juvenile behavior. A number of agencies in Jefferson County work in partnership with the DA’s office to help prevent future crime by treating the underlying mental illness of young offenders.
ADULT MENTAL HEALTH COURT
After months of collaboration and planning, the Adult Mental Health Court became operational in 2015. Pete and representatives of the DA’s Office played a central role in designing a court that addresses an offender’s mental health issues while still preserving public safety.
JUVENILE DIVERSION PROGRAM
First time, non-violent juvenile offenders may be accepted into the program. A district attorney’s diversion officer supervises the one-year program. Compliance with specific terms and conditions is required and juveniles who successfully complete the program will be terminated from diversion and their cases will be dismissed.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FAST TRACK PROGRAM
The DVFT program takes a specialized approach to misdemeanor domestic violence cases, providing prompt services to victims with a goal of ensuring their safety.
LOW RISK OFFENDER PROGRAM (LROP)
In 2014, approximately 160 kids were diverted from the juvenile justice system through this program. Low risk offenders are offered a quick treatment plan addressing issues underlying their criminal conduct. If they successfully complete the program, no criminal case is filed. The program has a 95-98% success rate.
Building safer communities requires outreach. Providing crime prevention programs and community resources helps us protect citizens from becoming victims of crime. Both our Power Against Fraud and our Consumer Fraud specialists help protect citizens, especially our senior citizens, from becoming victims of identity theft and other types of fraud. They also handle consumer complaints. Triad and the 911 Senior Cell Phone Project are collaborative efforts to protect and provide services to our senior citizens. Approximately 257 community presentations were given in 2014 and 2015 to educate our community on these important issues.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S CITIZEN ACADEMY
Pete developed the DA’s Citizens Academy in 2013. The Academy is a twelve-week program which immerses citizens into the judicial process. The Academy offers citizens the opportunity to hear from prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, defense attorneys and judges. Hands-on instruction is provided on case investigation and prosecution. The Academy is tremendously successful and has been copied in other DA’s offices. Our 5th class is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016.
Pete believes it is critical to provide support and assistance to all citizens who are victims of crime. The Victim/Witness Unit works in conjunction with the prosecutors to advocate on behalf of victims. In 2014, victim services provided support to over 5200 citizens who were victims of crimes against persons and collected over 2.4 million dollars in restitution.