Lindquist completes public safety tour

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One year ago, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist made it a goal to speak with every city and town council in the county about keeping our community safe. In May, Lindquist made the goal a reality with a public safety presentation before the Puyallup City Council.

Lindquist has spoken several times in Puyallup and other cities about his Elder Abuse Unit, which is a leader in the state. Pierce County won an award of nearly $400,000 from the Department of Justice for a comprehensive approach to protecting elders and other vulnerable adults.

Lindquist also spoke with councilmembers about the office’s High Priority Offender (HPO) program, which focuses resources on the small percentage of the criminals who cause a large percentage of crimes. Created by Lindquist in 2015 after several months of preparation, the HPO program uses technology and data to identify these “career criminals,” and thereby reduces crime.

The data-driven program also reduces bias in the system because it is objectively based on criminal history.

Modeled after a successful program in New York City and adapted for Pierce County, Lindquist is confident the program will work here as it has in cities on the East Coast. Pierce County is the first on the West Coast to implement this data-driven program. So far, more than 500 HPO defendants have been convicted and are serving long sentences in prison, nearly four times the average sentence.

“Our High Priority Offender Unit is one of the reasons crime is down in Pierce County,” Lindquist said.

Gang violence has been cut in half in Pierce County. The Prosecutor’s Office was the first in the state to use conspiracy statutes in gang sweeps to remove violent gang members from our streets.

The Prosecutor also talked about his lawsuit against three of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids in the country. The suit contends that the opioid crisis was created, in part, by the practices of pharmaceutical companies in providing false and misleading information to doctors and patients.

Pierce County seeks both injunctive relief, to put an end to the misleading marketing practices, and monetary relief, to provide financial resources to offset the costs to criminal justice, healthcare, and social services systems resulting from the opioid epidemic.

“Thank you for keeping our community safe,” said Mayor John Palmer, when Lindquist invited questions or comments.

Councilmember Robin Farris asked a question about rates of recidivism among participants in Pierce County’s Drug Court, one of the alternative courts in which the Prosecutor’s Office partners. Prosecutor Lindquist told Farris the rate of recidivism is considerably lower among drug court graduates than among those who do not choose drug court.

In addition to Drug Court, the Prosecutor’s Office has a Veteran’s Court, and a Mental Health Court for non-violent offenders who are diverted into needed services.

Lindquist’s presentation is part of his commitment to communicating with the public he serves. He is touring the county speaking with city councils, service groups, and other community organizations as well as local leaders. He and members of his team are available for presentations to raise awareness on public safety issues.

For more information, or help scheduling a presentation, contact Communications Coordinator James Lynch, (253) 798-6265, jlynch@co.pierce.wa.us.

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