Prosecute cases vigorously

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2002

Area residents have taken a keener interest in how cases are prosecuted in Mower County, after local law enforcement personnel and residents questioned how those cases were handled.

Recently, a state crime victims ombudsman said complaints brought by a local couple against Mower County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Oman were justified.

The report said there was a lack of communication between public safety officials and the attorney's office, that domestic abuse cases were not aggressively being prosecuted and that "cases involving assaults on law enforcement are not dealt with appropriately."

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The report also said the attorney's office had frustrated crime victims by "failing to appropriately charge cases or accepting weak or inappropriate plea agreements."

Those are serious charges, and ones that wouldn't have been possible without the cooperation of those who believed they were shortchanged by Oman and his staff.

We also thank law enforcement officials for shedding light on this problem. Even Oman should be commended for owing up to his shortcoming in this matter.

But the fact remains is that there's an obvious problem, and one that needs to be fixed.

The reason the attorney's office needs to fulfill its responsibilities is even more pressing now, as the public's image of Austin is slowly changing. With recent reports of gang activities and stabbings, some may be thinking twice about taking that evening summer walk.

At the very least, changes must be made in how the attorney's office operates. If not, voters may make their own changes come November.