There has become this mistrust among police officers and prosecutors in the past ten years. The police officers feel the prosecutor is lazy and disinterested, and the prosecutor feels the police officer hasn't put the case together sufficiently for it to be prosecuted. I know this statement is "beating a dead horse," but there must be a connection; a trust in order to accomplish the goal. The goal is successful prosecution of the gang member and a conviction to keep them off the streets. Ego's must be set aside, and both sides have to listen to each other. Police Officers must have a pristine file; a file that if read by anyone gives all of the information the prosecutor is looking for. When I was with the Prince George's County (MD) Police Departments Gang Unit, there were several prosecutors I sought out, because we developed a working bond. I knew what they were looking for, and they knew what I would provide to make the case.
Former Prince George's Assistant State's Attorney Anthony Mayo provided some key elements in a successful gang prosecution.
- Your file
- Victim (s), witnesses, and suspect information
- All written statements and what was said
- These statements must be signed by the victim, witness, or suspect, and witnessed and signed by you
- All photographs paramount to your case
- All field notes by responding officers en route, on scene to include dispatcher tapings, debriefings, chance meetings; any diagrams of the crime scene or dwellings
- Property receipts, arrest, investigative, and supplementary reports; jail receipts; search warrants and inventory receipts
- Jail records to include inmate telephone calls, inmate mail, jail visitors; Who visit the target gang member;? Are they gang members, family members, or other acquaintances; that leaves money on their account?
- Prior criminal history; Are there any "gang flags" or warnings; All arrests; were they gang related or gang motivated? Were there any convictions? Are they on parole or probation? Are there no gang contact provisions
Remember this is your credibility and integrity at stake! Also you must be articulate when reviewing your case. If you stumble, the prosecutor sees you as weak!
Tony Avendorph retired in 2009 after 40 in law enforcement, serving with the Illinois Department of Corrections, Los Angeles (CA) County Sheriff's Department, and Prince George's County Police Department (Md.).