During the January 24 St. Mary’s County Commissioners meeting, States Attorney for St. Mary’s County, Jaymi Sterling, requested funding for a new software program to accelerate the states attorneys office into the 21st century and for $782,600 for four new positions and reclassification of some current jobs. Commissioner Mike Hewitt seemed less than enthusiastic about helping provide an equitable solution to her requests.
The first item on the agenda with the States Attorney’s Office was upgrading the software they are currently using to a cloud-based program to make their office run more efficiently, allowing them to prosecute more cases quickly. The program is called Prosecutor by Karpel Software.
According to Sterling, “St. Mary’s County is the only county, to my knowledge, that is not using a cloud-based program”. Sterling compared the current system to dial-up, while everyone else has advanced to broadband and cloud-based systems to run their States Attorney Office efficiently. That motion was granted by the commissioners unanimously.
Sterling’s subsequent request focused on St. Mary’s County’s population versus the number of prosecutors, investigators, and victim-witness advocates. She compared the county’s numbers to the following five counties, Worchester, Calvert, Wicomico, and Cecil. In St. Mary’s County, the population is 113,000, and we have 13 prosecutors, one investigator, and one victim witness advocate(first in the county).
Worchester County, where the population is only 52,000, they have 17 prosecutors, six investigators, and six victim-witness advocates. In Calvert County, the population is 92,000, with 16 prosecutors, three investigators, and seven victim-witness advocates. Wicomico County and Cecil County both have a population of 103,000.
Respectfully, they have budgets for 20 prosecutors(currently 16 filled) and 17 prosecutors(currently 15 filled); both have three investigators each and three victim witness advocates. She also mentioned the statistics from the Maryland State Police and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention regarding murder, rape, and motor vehicle theft over a 5-year trend. In St. Mary’s County, the murder rate over five years has increased by 250%, the rape rate over five years has increased by 20%, and the motor vehicle theft rate has increased by 24.6% over five years. These are the statistics that Sterling was using to explain why she is requesting over a half million dollars for four new positions and new software.
After presenting these statistics to the commissioners, Commissioner Hewitt had quite the opposing argument he intended to drill Sterling with. He started by saying, “Not trying to put crimes into dollars; if you invest in quality, you get quality back. This is coming out of the emergency reserve…Look, I’m not going to tell you or try to tell you how to run your office, but is this going to be something in the future where we should be expecting half a million million dollar requests from your office to right-size it?”
He was very condescending when questioning or commenting on Sterling’s request, explicitly asking Sterling what her philosophy on her ideal states attorney office size would be. She stated that if there are even five more murders than the people they give her, it won’t work. She explained that she could not predict future violent crimes, how much forensics would be needed, or how much time each case would require.
Sterling also informed the commissioners that they are the only States Attorney Office that handles payable citations(speeding tickets, stop light tickets), which adds 10,000 more cases to the 13 prosecutors that are there, and that they also are the only States Attorney Office to handle Project Grad in the state. In the other counties, the judge and police officers handle the payable citations, according to Sterling.
Despite the intense attitude of Commissioner Mike Hewitt, Sterling walked away with her request approved. If you would like to view the Commissioner’s January 24 meeting, you can view that here.