Tuesday District Attorney Seth Williams asked City Council to provide more dough to hire additional assistant district attorneys and suggested that Council check out an entire episode of Law and Order to understand why.
Law and Order is a popular television show about criminal investigations and subsequent prosecutions. Williams’ suggestion followed a series of questions from City Councilman Bill Green about a chart the District Attorney presented showing that murder rates are higher where funding for prosecutors is low.
“How does an increase in funding to the DA’s office decrease the murder rate?” Green asked. “Not the conviction rate, not anything else, the murder rate, which is what this chart reflects?”
Williams: “Again, as I try to tell high school students and anybody else when I go out into the community and meetings …If you watch this TV show, Law and Order, the first half is about what the police do. The police officers in uniform show up. The detectives show up they solve the crime. That’s the first half hour…”
Green tried to speak.
“Do you want to ask another question or do you want me to answer that one?” Williams asked.
“No, but the question was about the murder rate,” Green said.
“I like to tell stories, you like to tell stories,” Williams said. “I’m trying to get to the story to answer the question. I love you Councilman, now let’s get to it. Cutting me off, you’re wasting your time.”
“The police are just the first half hour of the show. That’s just half, part of the show,” Williams explained. “If you hire nothing but cops, right, on Law and Order when they do their job then nothing happens after they get arrested. But you have to have the assistant district attorneys trying the cases.”
“You agree I believe, that the defendant has a right to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as their constitutional rights all of those happen in court and the DA’s have to be there,” Williams said. “So yes, I believe that we do need to have more police and that in many ways as a visible presence prevents crime. I understand that. We also have to understand that we have to invest in the District Attorney’s Office. To not invest in the District Attorney’s Office is to not have watched the entire 60 minutes of Law and Order.”
Green later said, “I still don’t understand the chart, but maybe I’ll go watch TV and find out.”