Monday, October 1, 2012

'He said, she said' stops at P.D., Prosecutor's office

Bellmead Chief experiences 98% rate of prosecution in crimes against persons – especially women and children
Bellmead – Lydia Alvarado learned her profession on the streets of the satellite communities southwest of Houston.
Nearly two decades of police work in Sugarland and El Campo led to increased responsibilities in Colorado and a return to Texas 18 months ago as Chief of the Bellmead P.D.
After 23 years as a police officer, Chief Alvarado has developed a keen edge on her skills in presenting cases of violence against persons. Like many policemen, she has experienced the frustration of building a case, only to see a failure of its presentation to the DA's staff for Grand Jury consideration as a felony crime, or prosecution in the County Courts at Law as a misdemeanor.
Domestic violence, child abuse – these are the kind of nitty gritty quality of life issues that make it tough to face the day without telling citizens “There's nothing we can do.”
When the Chief got here 18 months ago, “We had a 90 percent rejection for prosecution” in crimes against persons involving domestic violence and child abuse, she recalls.
Hey, I'm all about the victim,” she says. Her tone is dead solid sincere. Her gaze is level and unflinching. The lady means business when she says that.
As a result of a unified effort between police officers and prosecutors, the situation has turned around 180 degrees.
We have a 98 percent prosecution rate of crimes against persons, particularly in cases of child abuse, but also with domestic violence.”
Take a look at a typical report of domestic violence, and it's easy to see how the facts can get snarled in a spaghetti bowl of he said, she said conflicting statements that boggle the mind.
Old time cops remember that once the perpetrator was behind bars and the prosecutors ready to take stock of the case, the victim would often refuse to press charges.
That's all different today. When a police officer enters a home on a domestic disturbance call and there are clear signs of violence such as a hole punched in the sheetrock, phones ripped out of the wall, furniture or lamps broken – there is no doubt. Someone will be sent to jail. There will be a prosecution.
It's way too late to say you don't want to press charges because the Legislature closed that loophole a number of years ago. It's not up to the victim to make the decision of who will be charged and subsequently prosecuted. That is up to the judgment of the police officer and the prosecutors.
For instance, when Officer Daniel J. Mills responded to a call from a security guard at the Eagle Crest Apartments, 4120 Bellmead Dr., in the early hours of September 29, he learned that the sound of broken glass was only part of the signs of a disturbance.
Ms. Donna Babbs peered at him out of one eye that “wouldn't open more than halfway,” he stated in an affidavit in support of an arrest for domestic violence.
Ms. Babbs told him that she and James Edward Hood were “playing” when he hit her with his elbow.
At first, Mr. Hood admitted he had hit her, but later, “Mr. Hood stated that he never hit Ms. Babbs.”
After a look around the apartment, according to the laconic language of the officer's report, “Mr. Hood was then booked into the McLennan County Jail for family violence.” Jail records show Jail Magistrate Virgil Bain set his bond at $3,000. It took him a couple of days to post it and gain his freedom.
How did Chief Alvarado make such a turn around?
It took a little correction of police officers' reports, a little different approach to the prosecutors...I tell them, 'It's not just another report. It's not just another piece of paper.'”
A conviction for domestic violence will cost a man his right to keep and bear arms, to purchase a gun, to hold a job in the civil service or the ranks of law enforcement, in national security, or even in a defense plant.
It's serious business, and cops and prosecutors are taking it seriously.

1 comment:

  1. The Legendary very much regrets an erroneous report that the defendant in this case raised a bond fee on a $3,000 surety and thus gained his freedom. A closer check of the booking card shows that officers booked Mr. Hood into jail on July 29 and he was released on his personal recognizance on September 4. - The Legendary