SALT LAKE COUNTY – It’s just not enough. That’s the message from Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill about the budget the county approved for next year. He says the lack of funds will seriously hinder the ability of prosecutors to work on cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
When it comes these kinds of cases, Gill says prosecutors in neighboring counties are reportedly working on about 60 per year. However, in Salt Lake County, he says, “We are, at any given time, averaging about 131.”
During Tuesday night’s county council meeting, Gill asked for enough funding to pay for 16 full-time employees. The council only gave him enough money for nine, but only six employees will be dedicated to SVU cases, and he’s only getting four of them, right away. Gill says that’s not even close to sufficient.
“If we look at what we really need, we would probably need 30 full-time employees,” he says.
Gill says police and prosecutors don’t have the luxury of turning victims away, nor would they want to. However, he says politicians frequently forget their campaign promises when they vow they’ll be tough on crime.
“Every policy maker has good intentions and, when they’re running for office, everybody is for public safety. But, when it comes down to doing the hard work, the necessary work, they’re absent,” he adds.
Gill’s office is reportedly stretched so thin, he had to “cannibalize” his unit that was dedicated to homicide cases.
He states, “It’s not that we’re not prosecuting homicide cases. We are. But, rather than a team focused on homicide cases, we had to disperse those teams back into the regular team function.”
Gill says sexual assault and domestic violence cases need a lot more than just a prosecutor. He says he needs more paralegals, investigators and counselors to help victims deal with the trauma they’re facing.
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