Candidate Rob Greene, who is running for Warren County district attorney, answered a series of questions posed by the Times Observer.
How do you view the role of plea bargaining in criminal prosecution?
I believe that plea bargaining is a necessary legal aspect that needs to be utilized. However, I believe criminal defendants need to be held accountable for their actions. The current situation, I believe, is a little out of control.
In plea bargaining a case... if someone has 10 charges, pleading to seven or eight of them and dismissing two or three is a reasonable plea bargain. That's the way it works in most counties.
In Warren County, they're pleading to one, and possibly, two.
It's something that needs to be utilized, however criminal defendants need to be held accountable and I think they should be pleading a majority of the charges.
Right now it seems to be we're traveling down the path of least resistance. What I mean by that is, whatever makes the district attorney's life easier is what kind of pleas we get.
It's not doing justice to the victims to operate that way.
What do you see as the future of the Warren County Drug Task Force?
It will have a huge role, however it will be completely different in nature.
The Warren County Drug Task Force right now is lacking leadership and organization.
The task force in most cases, they do not use electronic surveillance, they do not use undercover informants, they solely rely on the word of a confidential informant who is someone who with this current administration has been charged with drug dealing, charged with possession, we had a child molester that worked as a confidential informant, and we're solely trusting their word.
That has led to innocent people being arrested and charges later being thrown out, charges being later dismissed, and in early 2012 the City of Warren Police Department dropping out of the drug task force.
The task force needs a lot of changes.
It takes funding for the Warren County Drug Task Force and with no cost to the taxpayer, the way I want to run that task force is I want to increase forfeiture sales, increase forfeitures from drug dealers.
We already have forfeitures with drug dealers.
When have you ever heard of a public forfeiture sale?
What I want to do is have open, public, and advertised forfeiture sales of drug dealers' things.
What that'll do is three things: it will create more money; it will eliminate any perception of wrongdoing by the district attorney's office; it will be one heck of a deterrent to drug dealers.
What they value most is their possessions and money. If we take their possessions and money when they're dealing drugs in Warren County and they know that and we make a festival out of selling their things down at Betts (Park) having a big tent and having an auctioneer... have people be able to come look at it ahead of time... you're going to make money and it's going to be a huge deterrent, keeping drug dealers out of Warren County.
With that money, we will be able to have electronic surveillance, we'll be able to have undercover officers which we could also work with other counties to swap officers back and forth for undercover surveillance, and possibly a canine unit.
The Warren County Drug Task Force needs to be an elite, cracker-jack force with the best officers we have in Warren County and bring back the City of Warren Police Department.
That's what gets me more excited than anything is being able to reshape that Warren County Drug Task Force and get the drugs out of Warren County.
What do you perceive as the greatest threat to public safety in the county?
Drugs are more than just dealing drugs, the drugs themselves, and using the drugs.
Drugs and alcohol abuse are at least 95 percent of all crime in Warren County, especially violent crime. Either they're on drugs at the time or they're stealing or robbing or assaulting someone because they want money to use drugs. If we can eliminate the drug dealers, or at least put a big dent in them, we're going to eliminate all crime together.
Drug abuse directly correlates with all other crime, especially the new drugs that we have. Bath salts can be ten times more powerful than the effects of cocaine and it's killing our kids. We have to put a dent in that and try to eliminate it from Warren County.
What do you think is the ideal size of the district attorney's office, should the county employ a county detective and, if so, should the position be full- or part-time?
Since I've been a criminal defense trial attorney on the other side for the past 12 years, I don't have the insight from the DA's point of view of what is adequate.
The way it is right now, with a full-time district attorney, a full-time first assistant, a part-time second assistant, is adequate.
That could change. With our Warren County Drug Task Force when we start arresting all these people we might need more.
We might curtail crime. The district attorney's job isn't solely to prosecute criminals, it's to help deter crime also. With programs I'd like to institute to try to work with and listen to other organizations to try to prevent crime, maybe that would go down.
With regard to a county detective... I think a full-time county detective is very important.
It's a very important position, but we need someone that has experience in that position, that is a veteran law-enforcement officer, that can help to run the Warren County Drug Task Force.