By Pat Jenkins
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist returned to some of his professional roots when he conducted a town hall-style meeting in Eatonville on the subject of fighting crime.
Lindquist spent his early days as a deputy prosecutor for the county handling District Court cases in Eatonville. He has been prosecuting attorney since 2009, when he was appointed by the County Council to replace Gerry Horne, who retired. Lindquist was elected the next year to serve the rest of Horne’s unexpired term, and he was re-elected in 2014 to a new four-year term.
He is planning to run for re-election again in 2018, and that sits well with people like Lynn Butler.
“We’re happy to have Mark as our prosecutor. He cares about our community,” said Butler, a longtime Eatonville resident and a member of the Eatonville Lions Club, which sponsored Lindquist's appearance May 9.
The audience in the Eatonville High School auditorium asked questions and listened to Lindquist talk about crime-related issues. On the topic of property crimes, for instance, he noted that his office is focused on reducing burglaries. One way is the High Priority Offender (HPO) program, which he described as a data-driven approach to prosecution and cracking down on perpetual crooks.
“We are focusing resources on the small percentage of offenders who cause a large percentage of the crimes,” Lindquist said. “When we send these career burglars away for long sentences, we prevent hundreds of future crimes.”
He said Pierce County is the first county on the west coast to implement an HPO program.
On other subjects, Lindquist said:
• His office, in tandem with the county's Sheriff Department and other agencies, wants to shutter drug houses and reduce opiate abuse. “We have to work together as a community,” he said. “There has to be accountability, and also services provided to those in need.”
• Elder abuse, especially financial crimes, are targeted by his office's Elder Abuse Unit. Started by Lindquist in 2011, the unit is committed to preventing elder abuse and safeguarding "vulnerable elders” through "vigorous prosecution and through education so people can better protect themselves, their families, and their friends.”
Pierce County's anti-elder abuse campaign is aided by a $370,985 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice., One of nine such grants nationwide, the funding supports local law enforcement agencies and victims' organizations in their efforts to improve training, community responses and access to victim services.
Lindquist said the meetings he has held in Eatonville and other communities have opened dialogue with citizens about their concerns and ways to protect the public.
“When we share information, it helps make our community safer,” he said.