Farewell letter from former Pinal County Attorney James P. Walsh

Fellow Pinal County residents,

As my term as Pinal County Attorney comes to an end, I want to inform you of the accomplishments of the Pinal County Attorney’s Office (PCAO) during the last five years.  This short letter will serve as a brief and only partial record of the hard work and dedication of 150 committed public servants at the PCAO.

Raising the bar for criminal prosecution process

Over the past five years, we almost doubled felony prosecutions, during a time of declining crime rates. This achievement was reached with very little if any extra resources.

Along with the Superior Court and other stakeholders we established the Early Disposition Court (EDC). It is one of the most successful tools in the criminal justice system that saves taxpayer money while increasing prosecutions, and protecting victims’ rights.

Support for crime victims

PCAO protects the rights of crime victims. We have notified thousands of crime victims of specific court proceedings in cases affecting them. In addition, PCAO victim advocates have provided hundreds of thousands of individual services to victims of crime over the past five years.

We collected millions in child support for single parents

Over the past five years, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office Child Support Division has collected over $100 million for Pinal County single parent familiesAnnually about 11,000 families are assisted.  Most of this money is spent here in Pinal County helping children and supporting local businesses.

News on the fights against prescription drug abuse and novelty powders

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office began an effort to protect children and adults by starting the Prescription Drug Turn-in program almost five years ago. We had lost children to abuse of prescription drugs. I am proud to announce that no deaths due to prescription drugs have been reported to us in more than a year now.

This summer the program entered a new phase. Police departments throughout the County installed special prescription drug drop off boxes to facilitate prescription drug turn-ins on a daily basis. Police departments in Apache Junction, Casa Grande, Coolidge, Maricopa and Eloy already have boxes. Florence and Superior are working on installing them. Also, the Arizona City Fire District obtained special permission and installed a box to serve residents in that community. Plans are now underway to install boxes in Oracle and San Tan Valley as well. The boxes are specially made to safeguard the dropped off prescription drugs.

Last October the statewide Arizona Substance Abuse Partnership launched a pilot Prescription Drug Reduction Initiative in Pinal County. One of the components will be higher utilization of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).  The Pinal County Substance Abuse Council, which I chaired, participates in this program.

We have begun a process to remove harmful novelty powders like “spice” and “bath salts” from stores in Pinal County. So far most of the retail outlets have voluntarily signed up for the Community Participation Program and removed these substances from their shelves.

Outreach to those that need us most

PCAO worked with community groups and provided support for crime prevention efforts throughout the county. We focused on our seniors and young people. We participated in hundreds of events and provided information about identity theft, substance abuse, car theft/prevention, legal issues for seniors and victims of child abuse and domestic violence.  In addition, PCAO representatives participated in community meetings for anti-substance abuse coalitions, TRIADs (serving seniors), social service networks and DV coalitions.

Criminals’ money put to good use

PCAO used its RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization) funds by partnering with different community organizations and programs to support community and after school programs for young people to provide alternatives to drugs and gang involvement.

Conclusion

My five and one-half years as Pinal County Attorney have been both professionally and personally satisfying.  It has been an honor and privilege to serve you.  Best wishes for you and your families and for all the residents of Pinal County.

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