27 December, 2014

Open Letter To New Kanawha County Prosecutor, Chuck MIller

In December 2013 I invited former Prosecutor Mark Plants to speak to my neighborhood watch about  what prosecutors and judges can do to rid our neighborhoods of drug dealers. In a crowd of about 30 people, Prosecutor Plants was asked about my ward's two most notorious drug dealers. Mr. Plants didn't recognize their names but he promised to get back to us with the disposition of their cases. He didn't. 

When some time had elapsed and I didn't see an indictment in the first Timothy Basham case I made a phone call to the courthouse and was informed that Judge Webster had dismissed the case because Prosecutor Plants' office didn't have their case ready. It was a slam dunk case. The SAPD did everything right. They arrested two Detroit drug dealers and seized thousands of dollars in drugs and drug money. Plants simply botched it. 

And since Prosecutor Plants had no mechanism in place to keep police departments informed of the status of their drug bust cases, Chief Michael Matthews didn't know the Basham case had been botched and all his man-hours and great police work squandered until he got a phone call from me. 

In a later phone call with Prosecutor Plants, I asked Plants if he had regular staff meetings at which his staff were required to update him on the status of pending cases. He admitted that he didn't. I told Prosecutor Plants that he was failing Management 101 and that the taxpayers and the police deserve to have a prosecutor who holds his staff accountable so that the solid police work of our local police is not squandered and so that our neighborhoods get some relief from the break-ins, the home invasions, the burglaries and even the murders that almost always turn out to be drug-related.

At our next neighborhood watch meeting I told my group that it is no longer enough for neighborhood watch groups to watch bad guys. I told them that we now have to watch the good guys, too.

So now Kanawha County has some new good guys to watch. Chuck Miller is the new prosecutor. Maryclaire Akers, who was fired by Prosecutor Plants, is now back at the Prosecutor's office. 

The police I've spoken to are happy about these changes. Prosecutor Miller, don't let them down. Don't let the taxpayers down. When the police hand you a slam dunk case, do everything you can to put the drug dealer out of business. And by "out of business" I certainly don't mean ankle monitors and home confinement because these things don't stop the drug dealing. 

Ask the judges to sentence drug dealers to community service where they will be unable to continue business as usual. Ask judges to use creative sentencing. If the prisons are full ask judges to sentence the dealers to 16 hours per day chained to a chair at their local police department if that's what it takes to stop the drug dealing. 

Use the power of shame and humiliation. Hire a PR person to bring as much media attention to convictions as is brought to perp walks and arrests. Saturate media with the names and faces of convicted drug dealers. 

I've already written letters to every 13th circuit judge asking them to use creative sentencing. 

I've also written letters to the media asking them to start following up on the arrests that make such good TV. Oh, how TV reporters love shining blue lights and swarms of police cruisers. And exploding South Hills mailboxes. Reporters may have to be taught to report on convictions but if you hire a PR person who Tweets and emails the media making it easy for them to report your court victories you can condition them to report the convictions as well as the arrests. 

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