Editorial: Go to trial
After only one month on the job, Petersburg’s newly appointed Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Polasky is already facing criticism from Petersburg Police Chief Jim Agner for failing to prosecute a case of a stolen television.
Since the case involves parties with criminal records it’s easy to see why the D.A.’s office would rather not prosecute the case. Neither the victims of the crime, the witnesses to the crime, nor the suspects were very credible witnesses. Parties interviewed by the police disagreed on how the transaction to sell the stolen television went down.
One party said the television was fenced for a couple of grams of coke and an ounce of weed. Another said the transaction was cash. Another party said the television was taken to cover payment for some pick-up trucks.
We can assume from these comments that the case would indeed have been tough for Polasky to prosecute.
We can also sympathize with the police chief who wanted to file charges of burglary in the first degree and theft in the second degree against two suspects who carried the television out of the victim’s home and later sold it.
“It’s wrong to go into people’s homes and steal stuff,” the Chief explained to us. Those committing crimes, even against other criminals, deserve protection. The police are paid to enforce laws protecting everyone in the community, not just well-heeled citizens.
In our opinion, the D.A.’s office should have prosecuted the case, but not for the reason supported by Chief Agner.
We think the case, despite the extensive police investigation, had some serious issues to contend with and very likely, a jury could have reason to acquit the defendants had they been charged.
The reason the case should have been prosecuted is to make the public aware of just what goes on in the underbelly of Petersburg. People are beat-up, possessions are stolen and later fenced, not just for cash, but for drugs. These players: victims, witnesses and suspects, all told the police compelling stories about criminal activity supported by theft of property, home invasion, fencing of stolen property and all the lies required to keep the crime of the evening in play.
Bringing this behavior into the glaring light of the courtroom does serve a public interest.
People want to know what’s going on in town and even if the D.A. loses his case, the criminals will still lose. Their deeds exposed, it will be tougher for them to conduct business in this town. More people will be watching them, not just the police.
No, we don’t think every criminal case the Petersburg Police Department brings forth should go to trial. They’ll lose some and win some. The same goes for the district attorney’s office. It’s all about teamwork and even though there is healthy disagreement between the police and prosecutors, they’re on the same team.
The public is also a part of that team and sometimes there is a benefit to letting them in on criminal activity which impacts law-abiding citizens who are just looking for good schools, quality government services and a growing economy that will enhance our lifestyle in Petersburg.