Contra Costa DA offers his own pay be cut

April 28, 2009 6:56:04 PM PDT
Shoplifters beware; the plan to stop prosecuting petty thefts and other minor crimes in Contra Costa County will not go forward after all. On Tuesday, county supervisors held an emergency meeting on the issue in Martinez.

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This non-prosecution policy was set to go forward starting next Monday, until Contra Costa County supervisors accepted an offer from the District Attorney to cut his own pay.

"I am offering today, effective May 1st, for myself to take a 10-percent reduction in pay," said Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly.

Kochly offered to give back part of his salary if it helps put off a plan to stop most misdemeanor prosecutions in Contra County.

In an emergency session with supervisors, Kochly said he's had three full-time attorneys resign in recent weeks. That, combined with his own salary cut, would allow his department enough money in the short-term to retain six temporary attorneys. The move would preserve misdemeanor prosecutions, for now.

Earlier, sheriff deputies and prosecutors warned of dire consequences if the county abandons many misdemeanor prosecutions.

"We're underfunded and we've reached the point where we can no longer prosecute crime in Contra Costa County," said Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove.

ABC7 obtained a copy of the memo Kochly sent to police chiefs, listing the misdemeanors his office would no longer pursue. They include drug possession, assault, battery, burglary, shoplifting, forgery, embezzlement, vandalism and trespassing. The policy change came after supervisors approved $1.9 million in cuts to the DA's budget.

"Right now, there's an open invitation to say 'Contra Costa is criminal-friendly and come on in.' I think we need to go back and re-evaluate and make sure we're not inviting the wrong element into our community," said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover.

Public safety officials told reporters, they believe the county spends too much money on its hospital and health clinics.

Supervisors say there just isn't enough money to put back into the DA's office.

"I haven't seen any delivery trucks come up to the front of his building with piles of more money," said Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema.

Again the DA did deliver some more money to the county by offering to cut his own pay. It was an offer that was accepted and it amounts to about $25,000. It is just a temporary solution until the end of the year and with no budget relief in sight, it is no doubt an issue that will be revisited.

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