Dunn: Backing the Blue


Linda Dunn

If we really and truly “back the blue,” shouldn’t we be supporting our Prosecutor’s request for additional funding to meet staffing needs? After all, the Prosecutor’s office is the one that determines if, when, and on what charges those who are arrested will be tried. They’ll also be the ones arguing the case in court (or negotiating a plea bargain) and thus hopefully lessening the likelihood that our police officers will be arresting the same suspects over and over again without sufficient consequences to deter them from criminal activity… or at least convince them to commit their crimes someplace else.

Most of us have been fortunate enough to avoid ever sitting in a courtroom and listening to prosecutors present their cases. But even serving on a jury only captures the public part of the job. You don’t see the hours of effort that support staff put into insuring that the Prosecutor attorneys have everything they need when and where they needed it to convince the judge (and jury) that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Our police officers are highly valued in this county and justifiably so. But they are the visible tip of the iceberg that floats above the water while the rest of the judicial system — including the Prosecutor’s Office — is usually unnoticed unless we crash into it or there’s a high profile case that draws our attention.

There is an old saying: “Cheap, fast, and good. Pick two.”

If it is cheap, it won’t be both good and fast. If it is fast, it can’t be both good and cheap. And finally, if it is good, it definitely will not be fast and cheap.

Does any one of us want a slow criminal justice system or a less efficient one solely to avoid a possible minuscule increase in our individual tax bills?

We can and must do better not just because this portion of the criminal justice system deserves it, but also because if we don’t, our failure to do so is likely to come back to bite us.

Hancock County has become a bedroom community of Indianapolis and, regardless of how we may feel about that, we’ve got to deal with the consequences of an increased population that generally brings a greater number of crimes and thus a greater number of cases for the criminal justice system.

Keeping us safe requires that all parts of the criminal justice system work effectively together and that means every component from the officers who make an arrest, to the Prosecutor’s staff, to those working within the judicial system need to be the best we have available.

And good is never cheap.

The Daily Reporter’s February 3 article was very informative about the services the Prosecutor’s office provides and where additional staffing would be helpful. If you haven’t already read that article, then you should do so to understand why this is an important component of our criminal justice system.

Our county prosecutor has been pointing out deficiencies for a long time and anyone who ever visited the Prosecutor’s office while they were still housed across from the courthouse in a historic building badly in need of repairs can attest to the difficulties inherent in that former location. That these employees managed to achieve as much as they did while housed there is a testament to their professionalism as well as their ability to do the legal equivalent of spin gold from straw.

Now that they are relocated, isn’t it time to turn our attention to the need for increased staffing to effectively protect the safety and well-being of all of us who live within this county?

After all, backing the blue isn’t just about supporting our police officers patrolling our county. It’s also about supporting the entire criminal justice system of which they are a part.

A lifelong resident of Hancock County, Linda Dunn is an author and retired Department of Defense employee.