Travis County DA strengthens ties with law enforcement

Travis County DA Margaret Moore is strengthening ties with local law enforcement. She's increasing the availability of prosecutorial assistance across the community.

When it comes to APD, the Travis County Sheriff's Office and other police departments in the county, Moore wants them to all interact with the DA's office on a regular basis.

From Downtown, to the East Side, to North Austin - crime happens all across town.

Moore wants all areas covered.

"That's the whole idea here. That we're working together with law enforcement across the county to strengthen the cases that are made and then that strengthens our ability to prosecute them," says Moore.

"It's more of a working relationship than we've seen in a long time," says Asst. Chief Jason Dusterhoft, Austin Police Department.

Since taking office in January, Moore has made several changes. For one, the Downtown Initiative Program. It was designed to impose harsher penalties for mainly drug-related offenses committed within the downtown district. Within that, a special prosecutor was assigned to downtown crime and housed at APD. Recently the program was dissolved, but Moore says the the benefits have expanded.

"So what we've done is say we're going to look at the crime, we're going to look at the record of the individual, we're going to look at the culpability of that individual in causing more crime to be taking place in that area but we don't care what the area is," says Moore.

The DA has now assigned prosecutors to five different regions, still including downtown. They act as direct resources for the Austin Police Department. There are also prosecutors assigned to several different divisions.

"It really benefits APD, benefits the citizens when you have that commander that goes, this is a problem person. They're committing 80 percent of my crime. I'm going to go to the person specified by Margaret Moore and say 'okay, what can we do to make sure this person is held accountable or actually put in jail for what they've been doing?" says Dusterhoft.

The DA's office is also working on improving special courts. They are looking at which offenders would benefit more from treatment rather than jail. That's not all.

"At the same time, I also formed a major crimes group where the most experienced prosecutors are available on-call. So if something happens, like the UT stabbing or the double homicide, these prosecutors are on-call to go help with whatever police need... search warrants, arrest warrants," says Moore.