Hermiston looking to take their cases to the District Attorney

HERMISTON, Ore -- Police are always looking for new ways to keep repeat offenders off the streets. The newest idea in Hermiston, sending all misdemeanor cases to the district attorney. That means even a stolen pair of sunglasses could land you in front of the DA.

It may not be the most popular idea, but Hermiston Chief of Police says something has to be done.

"The criminal justice system is sick and in need of some attention," said Chief Edmiston.

Chief Jason Edmiston has a new plan. Misdemeanor cases will now go to the county district attorney. The city prosecutor had gotten too overwhelmed.

"What we have now is not working," said Edmiston.

Some people weren't being held accountable for simple crimes because there just wasn't time.

"A chronic offender is more likely going to be a convicted felon, so they are going to be in circuit court, and are going to continue to commit acts of disorderly conduct," said Edmiston.

The goal is to put and keep people like Ivan Santoyo behind bars. According to police, Santoyo is a perfect example of a flawed system. He has been arrested 26 times and charged 59 times. Most recently last year for disorderly conduct and spitting on an officer.

It's cost not everyone can get on board with. Judge Thomas Creasing tells me that there just isn't enough man power in the County DA's office either.

"Probation officers don't have a new stack of folks to watch over 500, 800, 1000 new misdemeanors per year, the court administrators don't have the clerks to intake them," said Hermiston Judge Thomas Creasing.

Police say they are looking to contract another full-time district attorney to help ease the burden. Judge Creasing is still skeptical.

"Someone who needs a divorce, a child custody order, restraining order go even down further in the food chain, as far as getting heard in front of a judge," said Creasing.

The Chief maintains the change will be better for everyone.

"It's going to hold offenders more accountable, which could have a ripple effect of a safer community," said Edmiston.

A safer community at a higher price.

Officials tell KEPR that they are hoping an agreement can be reached in the next couple months. If so, all misdemeanor cases would go to the district attorney this fall.