Can you please provide expenditure estimates for possible expansion of staffing in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney or the Police Department to improve the cooperation of victims and witnesses with successful prosecutions of offenders. Please discuss how the City might leverage any applicable grant opportunities.
In order to improve the cooperation of victims and witnesses, there are five separate options that could be taken involving the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The options are as follows:
- Convert the current attorney overhire to a permanent, full-time position. As stated in the budget text, the current plan is for this overhire to be eliminated through attrition by the end of FY 2018. This overhire was approved to help address capacity concerns in the midst of a large number of high profile cases; the last of which is scheduled for trial in mid-July. After the conclusion of that case, the level of work will return to normal, and at that point, the overhire could be phased out through attrition. If the overhire position was made permanent, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney would have the capacity to shift a senior person into a witness cooperation coordinator role while maintaining their usual level of service. If the overhire role is not converted to a permanent, full-time position, the creation of a witness management program would not be possible.
- Create a new position, Legal Secretary II, to administer the clerical and administrative work associated with the witness management program. This secretary would work hand in hand with the witness cooperation coordinator at a cost of $60,204.
- Add an investigations unit, including three FTEs to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Two FTEs would be investigators and the third would be a supervisor. Altogether, this would cost approximately $330,000 including $230,000 in personnel costs and $100,000 in non-personnel expenditures for items such as two vehicles. Due to the creation of the new investigations unit, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney would require additional office space.
Due to the high cost of option 3, staff recommends that if Council wishes to increase the funding for this program, they provide funding for options 1 and/or 2, and allow staff to continue to perform additional cost analysis on the remaining options before proceeding. This will also allow the staff to evaluate the impact of the funded option(s) to determine if additional resources would be beneficial to the program before an additional investment.