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SOME IMPLICATIONS OF WITNESS MANAGEMENT FOR POLICE ADMINISTRATORS

NCJ Number
64144
Date Published
January 1979
Length
11 pages
Author(s)
L J FRY, J MILLER
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
A WITNESS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM IS DESCRIBED WHICH AIMS AT REDUCING OVERTIME COSTS FOR POLICE WITNESSES DUE TO COURT APPEARANCES AND AT REDUCING THE INCONVENIENCES OF COURT APPEARANCES FOR PRIVATE CITIZENS.
Abstract
THE STUDY WAS CONDUCTED IN A SINGLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM COEXTENSIVE WITH A COUNTY IN A PACIFIC COAST STATE. THE PROGRAM WAS RUN BY A DIRECTOR UNDER THE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE. INITIALLY IT WAS IMPLEMENTED AT THE COURT COMPLEX FOR MISDEMEANORS, AND LATER EXTENDED TO INCLUDED FELONY CASES AT ANOTHER COMPLEX. THE PROJECT OPERATED ON THE BASIS OF A TELEPHONE ALERT SYSTEM, AND THERE WERE NO RESTRICTIONS IN TERMS OF ELIGIBLE OFFENSES. ANY COURT HEARING WHERE LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL WERE SCHEDULED TO TESTIFY COULD BE COORDINATED BY THE PROJECT. PROJECT EVALUATION WAS DONE THROUGH A COURT APPEARANCE RECORD FORM COLLECTING INFORMATION ON THE OFFICERS DUTY STATUS, AGENCY, WORKING HOURS, AND TIME AND TYPE OF HEARING. IN ADDITION, THE DISPOSITION OF THE APPEARANCE WAS RECORDED, AS WAS THE TIME SPENT BY EACH OFFICER ON THE WITNESS STAND, IN TRAVEL, AND WAITING. DIRECT OBSERVATION OF 3 YEARS OF THE WITNESS PROJECT, INTERVIEWS WITH STRATEGICALLY PLACED CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERSONNEL, AND DATA FROM THE APPEARANCE RECORD FROM OVER 1 CALENDAR YEAR YIELDED THE STUDY DATA. A PROCEDURAL CHANGE WAS IMPLEMENTED FOR DRUNK DRIVING MISDEMEANORS, WHICH BROUGHT ABOUT SPECTACULAR IMPROVEMENTS. UNNECESSARY OFFICER APPEARANCES WERE REDUCED THROUGH A 1-DAY DELAY IN SUBPOENAING LAW ENFORCEMENT WITNESSES, ALLOWING DEFENDANTS TO PLEAD GUILTY OR PLEA BARGAIN RIGHT UP TO THE LAST MINUTE IN JURY TRIALS. FROM 619 APPEARANCES IN DRUNK DRIVING CASES IN A SINGLE QUARTER, THE PATROL PERSONNEL COURT APPEARANCES WERE REDUCED TO 110, SAVING THE HIGHWAY PATROL DEPARTMENT IN JUST ONE QUARTER AN AMOUNT OF MONEY EQUAL TO ITS ANNUAL BUDGET. HOWEVER, THE HIGHWAY PATROL EXPERIENCED INTENSE EMPLOYEE DISSATISFACTION WITH THE RESULTING DECREASE IN OVERTIME PAY. EFFORTS TO EXPAND SIMILAR PROCEDURAL CHANGES IN OTHER DEPARTMENTS FAILED, BECAUSE THE PROGRAM PLANNERS HAD NOT SUCCEEDED IN INTEGRATING LAW ENFORCEMENT AND MANAGEMENT CONCERNS, AND WITNESS COORDINATION HAD BEEN TREATED ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY AS A COURT MANAGEMENT ISSUE. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (MRK)
Date Created: December 30, 1979