District Attorney Raul Torrez is head of the largest DA’s office and law firm in the State.
After being on the job for less than six weeks, Torrez is already complaining before the legislature his office does not have enough resources to do its job. (See February 11, 2017 Albuquerque Journal “BernCo DA says crime “out of control” in county, page A-2)
Torrez says criminal justice in Albuquerque is in dire need of change, and he like APD Chief Gordon Eden and the Mayor Berry finds it easy to blame his predecessor or the Judicial system and the impact of “catch and release” of repeat offenders on public safety. (See Albuquerque Journal, “Justice Derailed”, February 11, 2017, page A-1)
Why not, it’s easier to blame someone else, especially the court’s, than to just buckle down, do your job and find a solution to the problems even if you did not create them.
On closer look, the overall budget for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office is $18,128,000 with personnel salaries & benefits compromising $16,809,000.
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s budget dwarfs all other DA offices in the State, as it should, because it has the highest case loads.
The DA’s office employs 287 people which include 108 attorneys, 35 Prosecution Specialists, 15 Victim advocates, 15 investigators 114 Support Staff.
Actual felony grand jury indictments are down by 50% from 8 years ago, yet Torrez says he needs more staff.
Based on my own experiences with the District Attorney’s office, Torrez can do the job with the resources he has and he should just get to work and stop complaining.
Mr. Torrez will be surprised what can be done when he starts to manage and hold people accountable within the office for doing their jobs.
When I was appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney by District Attorney Jeff Romero, we were faced with the identical dilemma of heavy case loads, stacks and stacks and stacks of files in the hallways because of no storage, a poor case management system and poor working conditions in a deteriorating building, low salaries and bad morale.
We successfully lobbied the County Commission for construction of a new District Attorney’s office and worked closely on the construction of the new District Court House.
Four years later and when we left, the District Attorney’s office was in the best shape it had ever been with increased staffing, salary increases, a case management system, the construction of a brand new District Attorney’s Office and significantly reduced cases loads to the national standard, especially the violent crime divisions.
Torrez can get the job done, but it will require him to make difficult decisions, decisions he was elected to make, especially when it comes to caseloads.
My suggestion to Torrez is try managing first, make changes within the office, before complaining to the legislature.