PART ONE: Equipment Providing the tools necessary to prosecute criminals
OFFICE EQUIPMENT The VA Compensation Board provides NO FUNDING for purchase of equipment. It has been many years since new equipment has been procured for the office. Fully functioning electronics is necessary for the proper function of the office.
Problems with Equipment Only one computer in the office is capable of copying CD’s and DVD’s which is necessary to comply with court orders of discovery and other important functions. Most computers and laptops cannot play the disks from the police department. Employees have had to bring their personal laptops in to play disks.
Problems with Equipment Employees have had to use their personal laptops to conduct discovery meetings with defense attorneys for drug cases and other cases with video evidence. Personal Laptops have had to be used for PowerPoint slide presentations during recent Jury Trials. The time has come for upgrades.
Original Equipment Request The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office originally requested $10,000.00 (to $14,000.00 in a meeting with the City Manager) to procure new computers for the office. Since that request the situation has become more dire.
New Equipment Problems The company responsible for servicing our copiers has informed us that they will no longer be able to service them after July 1 st due the machines being so outdated. We have had over a dozen calls for service on our machines in the last year. A high-volume copy machine is absolutely vital to our office function.
New Equipment Request Based on the recent issues with the copier, we will need to replace it within the next fiscal year. We are therefore requesting an additional $10,000.00 to replace the copier in addition to the $14,000.00 for the computers.
One-time Equipment Purchase The total request for the Computers and Copier is $24,000.00. This is not expected to fully cover the costs, however we have some limited funds in drug seizure money that we intend to use to supply the difference. We are doing our part to keep costs low, but we must have proper equipment.
PART TWO: Staff Salaries Providing Competitive Pay
Current Funding- Commonwealth’s Attorney Commonwealth’s Attorney: $113,760 This amount is statutory. In these tough economic times, NO request for a supplemental is being made despite the surrounding localities all supplementing their Commonwealth’s Attorney’s position. This amount is entirely paid by the State Compensation board- no City money is used to pay it.
Current Funding- Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney $78,914.00 This amount is entirely paid for by the State Compensation Board. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney $43,473.00 This amount is entirely paid for by the State Compensation Board It is under the state minimum of $45,385.00
Current Funding- Juvenile Justice Assistant Prosecutor In a budget crisis almost a decade ago, the state agreed to maintain funding for this position if the City of Hopewell covered a portion of the salary. Currently the salary is $43,473 of which $25,936 is paid by the state and $17,537 is paid by the City of Hopewell. It is still under the state minimum base salary of $45,385.00.
Current Funding-Staff Office Administrator $32,495.00 Entirely paid for by the State Paralegal $23,723.00 Entirely paid for by the State Administrative Assistant $23,723.00 Entirely paid for by the State
Disparity with Surrounding Localities Every surrounding locality supplements their Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office salaries beyond the State Compensation Board and beyond the state minimums. While big localities like Chesterfield provide numerous additional positions and much more competitive pay scales, even our small neighbors are way ahead of us.
Locality Supplements Beyond State Compensation Board Salaries and State Minimum Salaries
Hopewell Lags Behind Hopewell is the ONLY locality in our region that fails to supplement the salaries of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office The Average supplement for the surrounding localities in our area with similarly sized offices is $61,000.00.
The Disparity Extends Within the City of Hopewell Comparable positions within the City of Hopewell show a significant disparity in wages: Administrative and Paralegal positions are on average at least $10,000-$20,000 lower for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office than they are for the City. Administrative assistant positions, paralegal positions, and many police positions pay more than the lawyers in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
WE NEED COMPETITIVE PAY In order to attract and retain qualified employees, we must have a pay scale that is comparable to the surrounding areas. Public sector legal work already pays less than private, so Hopewell cannot afford to continue being at the very bottom of the barrel. We have an excellent staff who deserve competitive pay.
Funding Package to Bring Hopewell Up to Date We are requesting $60,000.00 in supplemental, which is actually less than the regional average, to supplement our six positions and create improved ability to retain qualified individuals. If Hopewell is serious about fighting crime, it needs to get serious about equal pay for the employees of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is doing great work for the city Set up a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to help respond to victims of sexual assault. Is sponsoring for the second year in a row the Anti-Gang Basketball Tournament for Youth at the Hopewell High School on May 7, 2011.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is fighting drug dealers Rejoined the Central Virginia Multi- Jurisdictional Narcotics Task Force Grand Jury to pursue regional drug dealers who conduct business in Hopewell. Worked with the ATF, FBI, DEA, and US Attorney’s Office to bring additional resources to combat drugs, gangs, guns, and other violent crime in Hopewell.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has targeted repeat offender drug dealers: Instituted a jury trial program in July 2010 for repeat drug dealers and other violent criminals to increase convictions and sentences for repeated offenders. Success: Every offender targeted so far has plead guilty to all their charges without a plea bargain. Unfortunately the effort has yet to reach its full potential due to decision of the City Manager and former-Police Chief to halt all anti-narcotics activity and suspend the CSU in August 2010, which is still in effect today. The incoming police chief has indicated he will resume targeting and arresting drug dealers soon and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will continue this program and hopefully lead to much greater success. We are excited to get this program fully going!
Major Homicide Prosecutions: Rontel Taylor- Guilty of 2 nd Degree Murder and use of a firearm: Sentenced to 43 Years William Stringfield- Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter and sentenced to the maximum 10 years. Shawn Wooden- Guilty of 2 counts of 2 nd Degree Muder and possession of a firearm after felon: Jury Recommended Sentence of 45 years. Donald Long- A cold case from 1964, which unfortunately had to be nolle prossed. This was an unfortunate set-back as we still believe in Mr. Long’s guilt but were unable to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt after so much time had passed.
Other Major Jury Trial Victories Tynesha Chavis, was convicted by a Hopewell Jury of felony child neglect in a recent Jury Trial tried by our Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and Juvenile Justice Prosecutor. Sentencing is set for June 6, 2011. Steven Setzer- This was the high speed chase through Hopewell in 2009. In 2010, we successfully convicted Mr. Setzer of felony eluding and attempted malicious wounding where he received a 7 year sentence for putting so many of Hopewell’s citizens in harms way.
Great Working Relationship with Law Enforcement In addition to the cooperation with the Virginia State Police on dozens of cases, and other federal agencies, the Hopewell Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has worked closely with the Hopewell Sheriff’s Department on several important criminal cases. We have worked closely with the Sheriff’s Department on the I-295 project and have provided support to their office as requested.
Great Working Relationship with Law Enforcement Contrary to the attempts of some in the media to portray a bad relationship with the Hopewell Bureau of Police, the opposite is true. From Day One, we instituted an open door policy for the police officers. They are able to come in any time without appointment and see one of our attorneys immediately for help on cases. We have worked closely to accommodate scheduling and continuances to ensure that police officers’ vacations, training, and family emergencies are not harmed by court appearances. Our attorneys and staff assist with search warrants, DNA testing, subpoena requests, and other legal matters every day for any officer who asks for our assistance. Our relationship with the Police Officers and Detectives is professional and of the highest degree of excellence. Officers come and go from our office every day without needing to schedule appointments, are able to reach us 24 hours a day for advice, and are treated in the most professional manner possible.
Great Working Relationship with Victim Witness We have enjoyed a great working relationship with the Victim Witness Program and provided great support to our victims and witnesses. Despite the City Manager unilaterally moving the project in May over “Personnel Matters”, we continued to work together every day without interruption and the City Manager has recently vindicated our personnel decision by implementing the exact personnel move we made in May. The Program has benefitted tremendously and is one of the best in the state now.
Working Hard=Earning Results The 2 nd Lowest Felony Nolle Prosequi/ Dismissal Rate in the Region in 2010
Let’s Fight Crime Together $24,000 in One time supplement for equipment $60,000 in competitive pay salary supplement YOUR Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office needs YOUR support.