This letter addresses the issue regarding the dispute between the Rockport Police Department and the Aransas County District Attorney’s Office. I submit my comments based upon 40+ years in law enforcement, retiring at the rank of Assistant Chief of Police.
The rhetoric growing out of this dispute does nothing to instill confidence in the criminal justice system as it pertains to the citizens of Aransas County. Opinions have been formed one way or the other based upon pieces of information, some factual, some opinion and rumors.
Here are the facts as I see them.
The police investigate crimes. The district attorney prosecutes. Cases are tried in court with both the prosecution and the defense arguing their respective sides and presenting evidence supporting that.
The court will determine guilt or innocence based upon the evidence.
When the police present their case for prosecution, someone in the DA’s office usually determines if there is sufficient information to proceed. Lacking information, such as, witness information, complete evidence that meets the elements of the offense to be prosecuted, incomplete reports, etc. will cause the case to be rejected until such time as the deficiencies are rectified. By law, all of this information has to be given to the defense.
This is what happens throughout the state every day. Since some cases submitted by the RPD are being prosecuted, I assume some of these have complete information so they can be prosecuted. Some don’t.
I cannot say who is at fault here except to say everyone involved gets a piece of the blame. This should have been fixed long ago, but hasn’t.
My recommendation: Convene a meeting of all parties involved - the Chief of Police, District Attorney, Mayor, City Manager and County Judge. Appoint an independent moderator to conduct and oversee the meeting. Include a seat at the table for the newspaper and a citizen representative. This will ensure the transparency that we all want to see. A reasonable and professional discussion from all parties should occur with the result being that some agreement is reached that resolves this issue.
Failure to resolve the problem will erode the trust in both the police department and the district attorney’s office. The citizens will be the ones who lose.