MAKING DAKOTA COUNTY A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK
The purpose of our court system is to make our neighborhoods safer. In my sixteen years as a frontline prosecutor, I have handled thousands of violent cases involving homicides, shootings, assaults, and other serious felonies. Although many violent offenders belong in prison, those offenders represent a small number of people– and we know who they are. Other types of crime, such as crimes borne out of addiction and mental illness, can and should be addressed using strategies that are more effective, less costly, and that keep our communities safer.
When I’m elected, I will focus the resources of the Dakota County Attorney’s office on prosecuting violent crimes that threaten the safety and stability of our communities, not on criminalizing addiction and mental illness. I will combine compassion and justice to help Dakota County become a model jurisdiction that uses evidence-based programs and outcome-based policies to reach measurable results and improve community safety.
Very often, veterans are charged with a crime after struggling as a result of their service to our country. I will work to establish Dakota County’s first Veterans Court which will identify eligible veterans who have been charged with a crime and connect them to the services and resources they have earned through their service which will help address any underlying problems they may be experiencing related to substance use, mental health, housing, and employment.
Criminalizing addiction does not keep us safer. Right now, Dakota County has an opportunity to establish itself as a model community for identifying high-risk, high-need individuals who are charged with a crime and connecting them with programming that combines drug treatment, daily accountability, housing, job placement, and a path toward a better future. I will ensure that our Drug Court follows best practices and significantly expands its capacity.
MENTAL HEALTH COURT
Mental health courts work with people with mental illnesses who are involved in the justice system. These courts connect people to effective treatment and support after they undergo screening and assessments. I will work to create our first Mental Health Court to work collaboratively with criminal justice partners to focus on mental health treatment, monitor random drug tests, medication adherence, ensure participants attend psychiatric appointments, and help people in crises to coordinate housing and employment assistance. Mental Health Court will integrate with other Dakota County mental health services to ensure treatment and community safety by addressing underlying mental illness.
PROACTIVELY ADDRESSING AUTO THEFTS AND CARJACKINGS
I am currently leading coordinated law enforcement and community partnership around focused deterrence for youth involved in auto theft. Auto theft investigations and prosecutions should work collaboratively with other jurisdictions to ensure that repeat auto thieves are identified and stopped.
Carjackings are an incredibly frightening experience that no one should go through. I recognize the severe loss of a sense of security and financial hardship that results from these crimes. Most of the recent carjackings taking place across the metro area are being perpetrated by a small number of juvenile offenders. Dakota County must join together with other metro jurisdictions to collaboratively find solutions across county lines that stop the cycle of reoffense and restore our community’s sense of security. I was recently asked to lead a focused response, involving multiple government agencies, to these ongoing events and I will bring that strong experience to Dakota County.
FAMILIES AND JUVENILES IN CRISIS
As Dakota County Attorney, I will work to strengthen families in crisis by using a collaborative approach to addressing crimes committed by juveniles. I will work with our partners in the justice system, youth services, and community-based programs to ensure that families in crisis receive the help they need. I will ensure that the County Attorney’s office works as a collaborative team member with our school districts, local municipalities, and police departments to bolster mentorship programs and to address underlying problems such as untreated mental illness, chemical dependency, and lack of educational opportunities.
People who have finished serving their time after being convicted of a crime should have the chance to rebuild their lives. A criminal record can prevent people from accessing the housing, jobs, and other things their families need to thrive, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and criminal activity. When I’m elected, I will support programs that allow offenders who are not a risk to our community’s safety to clear their records and get a fresh start to a better life for themselves and their families.
PRIORITIZING VICTIM SERVICES AND VICTIM CRIMES
Approximately one in four women in the U.S. has experienced physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Given that, it is no surprise that domestic violence accounts for almost 15% of all reported violent crimes. From my years of experience, I recognize that the prosecution of domestic violence cases must recognize the need to manage the risk to the victim’s safety and well-being. I will look at creating a more coordinated community response to domestic violence to more effectively enhance the accountability of individuals convicted of domestic violence, reduce recidivism, and promote victim safety and well-being.
SEXUAL ASSAULT/CHILD ABUSE
Prosecution of sexual violence crimes poses unique challenges for prosecutors because the evidence is primarily based on the testimony of vulnerable victims which can result in a low percentage of charged cases and even lower convictions. I will work to improve prosecutions of sexual violence by ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive trauma-informed, victim-centered, offender-focused, responses by all employees of the Dakota County Attorney Office.