Op/Ed: Time for a new culture in the District Attorney’s Office

By Joseph W. Carroll, Former District Attorney, Chester County

Joe Carroll (left) and Deb Ryan

On November 5th Chester County voters will elect a District Attorney.  I know from having held that office for 10 years the power and responsibility that goes with the position.  As the chief law enforcement officer of the county, the DA can help keep our citizens safe and bring comfort to the victims of crime.  But mistakes, poor working relationships with law enforcement agencies, a callous attitude towards victims, premature press conferences, and decisions based on personal or political consequences can unfairly and irreparably damage lives.

I also know the qualifications of both candidates, having hired and reviewed the performance of both while they worked as assistant district attorneys for me.  I also have the benefit of hearing from many of my friends in law enforcement about the performance of the candidates since I left office.

Based on that knowledge of the office and the candidates I strongly urge voters to elect Deb Ryan as our next District Attorney.  I note that the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, Chester County FOP Lodge 11, State Police FOP Lodge 66 (Chester County) and the East Whiteland Police Association are among the many endorsements Ms. Ryan has received as well.

We need a new culture in the District Attorney’s Office, something only Deb Ryan can provide.  Ms. Ryan recognizes that becoming the chief law enforcement officer of the county makes her a servant, not a king; and that the power she controls as District Attorney belongs to the people she serves.  She won’t hold press conferences that potentially damage investigations, taint trials, or ruin the reputations of innocent people.  She won’t consider the potential personal or political consequences of the decisions she makes or use her office for self-promotion.  She will hold all criminals accountable but be ethical and even-handed every step of the way.

She will repair damaged relationships with law enforcement agencies, pursuing the shared goals of public safety and justice with no concern about who gets the credit.  She will treat crime victims with the compassion and support they deserve.  And she will hire, train and lead a staff that abides by the same standards.

I trusted Ms. Ryan’s judgment when she worked for me, and my successor did as well: he promoted her to supervisor of the Child Abuse Unit and named her Prosecutor of the Year.  With 15 years of experience as an assistant district attorney, she has a proven record – recognized by colleagues, police officers and victims – as an excellent trial lawyer and tough prosecutor.  She has obtained stiff penalties for those who deserve them and can distinguish between those who will always pose a danger and should be confined as long as the law allows, and those who can be rehabilitated through our treatment courts and other sentencing options.  She has an intuitive understanding of what victim/survivors need, and the ability to teach that skill to others.

Tough, smart, ethical and compassionate is a great combination.  It’s why I was always proud to have her represent me in the courtroom.  It’s why she earned the police endorsements I mentioned earlier.  Now, she should be the leader.  She’s earned it.  Vote Deb Ryan for District Attorney.

Joseph W. Carroll served as District Attorney of Chester County from 2002 to 2012.

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