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The future of criminal justice in Pierce County

4:03 pm July 3rd, 2014

Paul Pastor is Pierce County's sheriff.

Paul Pastor is Pierce County’s sheriff.

By Paul Pastor
I want to make you aware of a project which the Pierce County Sheriff Department has been involved in and which we have recently completed. The project is the work of the Pierce County Criminal Justice Vision Group. It was organized by our department last summer to examine the future needs of the criminal justice system in Pierce County. Members of the group consisted of representatives from our department, Superior Court, District Court, prosecutor’s office, Department of Assigned Council, court clerk, medical examiner and Juvenile Court.
I organized the Criminal Justice Vision Group because I believed that not enough was being done to meet our future needs. The group met several times to consider a number of issues facing the criminal justice system, including our current challenges, what do we need to meet demands, how can agencies better cooperate with one another, and what needs will each agency have when county population goes from 814,000 to over 1 million in the next five to eight years.
The group met and worked on these issues. We met over brown-bag lunches. We did not hire any outside consultants, so the cost of the effort was minimal.
The group produced a document which described system needs now and over the next five to eight years. This is the first time a comprehensive Criminal Justice Plan has been developed for Pierce County.
The document reached four general conclusions which apply to the entire criminal justice system:
• Demand for criminal justice services currently outstrips resources to meet demand.
• As the recession ends, population in Pierce County will increase resulting in an increased demand for criminal justice services.
• Improving current service delivery and meeting additional demand as population increases will require efforts on three fronts:
• Greater cooperation between agencies in the system.
• Improvements in the county’s criminal justice information systems.
Paul Pastor is Pierce County's sheriff.

Paul Pastor is Pierce County’s sheriff.

Paul Pastor is Pierce County's sheriff.

Paul Pastor is Pierce County’s sheriff.

Additional resources to agencies in order to balance demand for service and the capacity of agencies to meet that demand.
Even after efficiencies are achieved through better cooperation and better information systems, it will be still be necessary to grow resources available to agencies.
For the Sheriff Department, the document notes that we will need to have 80 deputies, 67 corrections deputies and 32 professional support personnel over the next five to eight years. I would be happy to hear your views on the document. If you have comments, feel free to send an e-mail to pcsheriff@co.pierce.wa.us

Paul Pastor is the sheriff of Pierce County. He wrote this article for the Sheriff Department’s website.

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