"Efficiencies and Accountability: A Report to the Stakeholders" presented by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty
On Friday, January 9th, we went to the City Club of Greater Cleveland where we attended a forum titled "Efficiencies and Accountability: A Report to the Stakeholders" presented by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty concerning the programs, priorities and goals of his office. At first we thought the title of this program was somewhat misleading but after hearing the presentation and thinking about it for a while, it made sense to us because, as Mr. McGinty stated in a letter that was published in his office's 2013 Annual Report, "if you live in Cuyahoga County, we are your law firm. We represent and advise public agencies. We speak up for the abused and neglected children. We help communities clear blighted properties. We go after child support so families have the resources they need. We teach parents and children about the dangers that lurk on the internet. But our biggest task is to prosecute individuals who commit felonies in Cuyahoga County." Mr. McGinty said that the vision of his office was to make "Cuyahoga County a thriving and safe place to live, work, and conduct business." Accordingly, its priorities are to:
***refocus efforts of the Prosecutor's office and its partners in law enforcement on the most violent offenders.
***restore public confidence in the justice system, the integrity of county government and the professionalism of the Prosecutor's office.
***reform the Cuyahoga County Criminal Justice system by improving efficiency, transparency, and accountability-to victims, taxpayers, and those charged with crimes.
***to manage the Prosecutor's office in apolitical, business-like fashion with a commitment to continuous improvement.
Throughout his presentation, Mr. McGinty emphasized the importance of his office and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to work together to accomplish these goals and was very proud of the progress made in this area. He was very complimentary to his chief of staff, Ms. Jane Platten for making the Prosecutor's office more diversified.
Sitting upon the City Club stage with him were three people who Mr. McGinty called upon to talk about their various divisions so Mr. Richard A. Bell spoke about the efforts to combat sexual assault; Ms. Yvonne Billingsley spoke about the Family Law Division; and Mr. Duane Deskins spoke about juvenile justice and crime prevention.
Afterwards, Mr. McGinty had time to take questions from several people including our friends Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed and Ms. Meryl Johnson who was very troubled about the Tamir Rice shooting. Mr. McGinty expressed his concern but, of course, since the case was still pending he could not take a stand. We thought he was successful when he spoke of the need to find the balance between the rights of the police protect themselves and need for them to be accountable to the public. He went on to give examples of law enforcement personnel that his office had prosecuted for wrongdoings. He also spoke of efforts to equip police cars with video cameras which will help in evaluating how the police respond to particular situations so compliments can be given when appropriate and improvements made when necessary.
In addition, Mr. McGinty took a question regarding crimes involving drugs and alcohol. He acknowledged that simply putting the offender in jail will not work and a more comprehensive approach is necessary. Along these lines he said that more diversion programs are needed.
We were very pleased to see Reverend Wayne Arnason of the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, which we attend, here today because both he and his wife and co-minister, Reverend Kathleen Rolenz, consider it vital for law enforcement to regain the trust and confidence of the Cleveland community after the police shootings. Reverend Arnason told us that he liked what Mr. McGinty and the other speakers had to say.
We enjoyed having our noontime meal with Mr. Mark McCarthy, an attorney who has known Mr. McGinty since grade school, and with Judge Mary J. Boyle and Judge Eileen A. Gallagher, both appellate judges of the 8th District Court of Appeals who were there on Thursday, January 8th, when Judge Shannon Gallagher was sworn in. They have known her a long time and expect her to do quite well.
Several months ago we sat with Mr. Duane Deskins, who spoke on this day, at another City Club program and we admired him for seconding Mr. McGinty in his call for all law enforcement agencies as well as all governmental offices and the citizenry to work together. As he concluded, Mr. Deskins quoted Ms. Helen Keller as he said, "alone we can do so little but together we can do so much."