Law enforcement agencies in Pittsburg, Antioch and Brentwood could soon have their own deputy district attorney to prosecute crimes.
The three East Contra Costa cities are negotiating with the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office to bring a recently retired prosecutor back on a per diem basis to handle local cases.
The hope is to have the veteran prosecutor start by the beginning of next year, Antioch police Chief Allan Cantando said.
He would handle filing for major crimes such as burglaries, car thefts and assaults, said Bruce Flynn, a Contra Costa deputy district attorney. Homicide and sexual assault cases would still be handled through the county system.
Having a dedicated prosecutor will free up time to investigate crimes for detectives, who now must drive to Martinez to file cases, Brentwood police Chief Mark Evenson said.
"Just having a deputy district attorney dedicated to East County will be beneficial," Evenson said. "He can really get to know all three of our agencies and have more of a sense of what is going on in our communities."
He could provide training to officers to help them improve report writing, search and seizure protocol and keep them apprised of changes in case law, Pittsburg police Capt. Brian Addington said.
"It's the proverbial win-win situation," deputy district attorney Hal Jewett said. Having a prosecutor nearby will help the cities handle cases expeditiously, while freeing up time for "overburdened filing deputies," he said.
Local police departments say they arrest juveniles on suspicion of armed robbery and other violent crimes only to see them released from jail days later. Some cases are never prosecuted because the volume of cases is too high.
A focused prosecutor will help Antioch and its thinly-staffed police force hold local criminals accountable, Cantando said.
"If we're prosecuting those that are committing crimes, keeping them in custody and forcing them to be held to answer, it will reduce crime and recidivism," Cantando said.
Other Contra Costa cities have funded their own deputy district attorneys in the past, but Richmond is the lone city that still has a community prosecutor. The Contra Costa Sheriff's Department also has its own prosecutor.
Brentwood had a prosecutor handling its cases, but cut that program about three years ago because it could no longer afford it, Evenson said
Antioch had budgeted $100,000 to finance hiring its own full-time deputy district attorney back in 2007, but those plans went awry because of budget constraints.
Each city would pick up a portion of the cost: Pittsburg and Antioch would pay $32,000 apiece and Brentwood $16,000. The prosecutor would work out of the Pittsburg police station, which is next to a county courthouse.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.