When Gregg Bernstein was elected state's attorney in 2010, the office badly needed reform. Four years later, David Kennedy from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York described Baltimore's as "the best run state's attorney office in the country." Baltimore cannot afford to step backward from this remarkable progress.
After his election, following proposals developed with the Greater Baltimore Committee and seizing on nationwide "best practices," Mr. Bernstein reorganized the office as a model for "vertical community prosecution." Under a "vertical" model, a single prosecutor takes responsibility of a case from investigation, to arrest, to disposition. Previously, cases had been assigned to courtrooms, not lawyers, making it easy to pass the buck to the next prosecutor on the case. Those days are over. Through "community prosecution," cases are developed according to the needs of a community, focusing on the most serious crime and the worst offenders. Prosecutors become accountable to the communities they are charged to protect. Mr. Bernstein brought that to Baltimore, too.
The Major Investigations Unit implements the vertical community prosecution model by working closely with communities to build long term, intelligence driven cases that will undermine the criminal infrastructure operating in Baltimore's neighborhoods. This approach will ultimately make Baltimore safer because it targets repeat violent offenders.
In four short years, Mr. Bernstein has given the city a prosecutor's office that now stands among the best in the nation. The voters should send him back for four more years to keep doing exactly the same thing.
Charles N. Curlett Jr., Baltimore
The writer chaired the GBC Committee on Best Practices for the Baltimore City State's Attorney and is the managing partner of Levin & Curlett LLC, a white collar litigation firm in Baltimore. The report can be found here, and a report measuring the office's progress can be found here.
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