DA discusses use of body cameras, commissioners approve $1.7M budget | CraigDailyPress.com

DA discusses use of body cameras, commissioners approve $1.7M budget

Matt Stensland/Steamboat Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Body cameras worn by police have been an effective tool to prosecute crimes, District Attorney Brett Barkey told county commissioners Tuesday.

Barkey on Tuesday met with Routt County commissioners to give an overview of his office and get his 2018 budget approved.

The discussion included a conference call with commissioners from Moffat and Grand counties, which encompass the 14th Judicial District along with Routt County.

Commissioner Doug Monger was curious how effective the body cameras have been because the Routt County Sheriff's Office began using them this year.

"From a prosecution perspective, those are awesome pieces of evidence," Barkey said. "I think they've been critical."

Barkey said some of the challenges this year involved the implementation of police-worn body camera evidence.

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Barkey said there has been a learning curve to make sure all the discovery evidence has been shared with defendants.

He said complaints of police misconduct have decreased dramatically and jurors these days expect to see body camera video.

Barkey also told the commissioners that restructuring staff has allowed him to pay new lawyers a competitive wage.

Barkey’s 2018 budget of $1,716,016 was approved and is about $10,000 less than his 2017 spending plan.

"We appreciate you holding the line on that, and we trust your judgment," Routt Commissioner Tim Corrigan said.

Barkey said health insurance costs for 2018 were actually going to be lower next year.

Routt County will contribute 47 percent of the DA’s budget while Moffat County will contribute about 25 percent and Grand will provide 28 percent.

Barkey is not proposing across-the-board raises for his staff but said he would be granting pay increases for his newest employees.

Barkey briefed commissioners on accomplishments and challenges from the year.

"Our Moffat County docket continues to be our most challenging felony docket," Barkey said.

His office handled a manslaughter case, which was ultimately dismissed, involving two men who were doing work at the power plant in Craig.

The District Attorney's Office handled 282 felony cases in Moffat County in 2016 compared to 231 through Oct. 4. So far this year, 44 percent of the cases have been drug related.

In Routt County, the District Attorney's Office handled 121 felony cases in 2016 and 135 so far this year. Of those filed in 2017, 31 percent involved drug-related charges.

Barkey reported that in Grand County felony drug cases jumped from 3 percent of the caseload in 2016 to 32 percent in 2017.

The most notable case this year was the Miguel Diaz-Martinez sex trafficking case involving underage girls. A trial was avoided after Diaz-Martinez accepted a plea deal. He is scheduled to be sentenced in November to between 46 and 50 years.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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