Volume 4 | April, 2021
Welcome to another edition of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office quarterly newsletter. Like many of you, we were happy to usher in a new year and we are hopeful that 2021 will bring new beginnings and good news for our Washington County community.
In this edition you can read updates regarding ongoing projects and learn about several new initiatives we are spearheading. We officially opened our new grant-funded Cold Case Unit in February as we welcomed Detective Kevin Winfield, a homicide detective with over 20 years of experience. We also celebrated two graduations from our grant-funded Veterans Treatment Court program, which provides a specialized response for military veterans in the criminal justice system. And as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure our legal profession reflects the diverse community that we serve, we helped create and sponsor the Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair, which occurred in March. You can also read about results from the first year of our “Rapid Fitness to Proceed” pilot program, developed to increase court efficiencies and help individuals in the justice system who have mental health challenges.

This April, we are looking forward to celebrating Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Stay tuned for more information on those events through our social media and website.

As we move forward into 2021, we wish you and your family good health and safety. 
-District Attorney Kevin Barton
Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton served as a founding member of the Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair, which took place virtually March 9-10, 2021.

The mission of the Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair is to bring together Oregon's legal community to recruit and retain diverse legal professionals who will reflect the identity and values of the people and clients they serve. The first-annual event served as the one and only legal job fair for diverse legal professionals in Oregon.

More than 130 people attended the job fair, with more than 600 interviews completed across the 81 virtual employer booths. Many career seekers have gone on to complete second interviews, and some have been hired by firms which hosted virtual booths.

District Attorney Barton intends to continue this event for many years to come. Visit www.ODLJF.org to learn more and be sure to explore their Facebook and LinkedIn pages for future updates.
Honoring Important Awareness Dates
Our office has worked in collaboration with our community and law enforcement partners to honor several key dates throughout April. Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Crime Victims' Rights Week all take place throughout April.

Several city councils along with the Washington County Board of Commissioners plan to pass proclamations in support of these important events. We also have a virtual community roundtable planned to show victims they are supported and that help is available.

You can register for this webinar by clicking the button below. Please also view our calendar of events to learn more about everything we have planned for April.

Virtual Community Roundtable Discussion
Zoom Webinar
Tuesday, April 20th
3:00-4:30 p.m.
Video Spotlight
Honoring Human Trafficking Awareness Month

The Washington County District Attorney's Office joined our partners to highlight National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month which took place in January.

The Washington County Human Trafficking Task Force was launched in 2018. Its mission is to identify trafficking cases, to rescue victims from these situations and to hold offenders accountable.

Task force members include law enforcement agencies, community groups and our office. The Washington County Sheriff's Office and Safety Compass Oregon are among our many key partners. Please watch this video to learn more about the work of this task force and resources available to trafficking victims.
Courthouse News
Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program Shows Success in First Year
We are pleased to report the success of a new project that has not only helped increase efficiencies in court, but has also helped save taxpayers more than $288,000!

Launched last February, the Washington County Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program was designed to make the court fitness to proceed process as efficient as possible.

We worked with the Washington County Circuit Court, the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Washington County Forensic Mental Health Department, and the defense bar to develop new ways to decrease the amount of time defendants are housed in jail pending trial competency determinations.

In the first year of the program, there were 32 successful fitness determinations. The median time to those determinations was just 15 days, down from 56 days under the state’s system. On average, this increased efficiency helped save 41 days of jail time served per defendant, leading to a total approximate savings of more than $288,000 to the taxpayer.

We’d like to thank all our partners who helped make this possible. Visit our website to learn more.
New Cold Case Unit Up and Running
In February, Sheriff Pat Garrett of the Washington County Sheriff's Office conducted a swearing-in ceremony for Detective Kevin Winfield. With more than 20 years of investigative experience, Detective Winfield will be working in our office as he begins to re-examine violent crime cold cases dating back as far as 1968.

Detective Winfield will join the newly created Violent Crime Cold Case Multidisciplinary Team. This team will work collaboratively in an effort to solve these cases and bring some sense of closure to the victim’s families and loved ones.

Among the many cases up for reexamination is the 2001 murder of Loni Okaruru, a transgender woman. This horrific crime shook the community then and continues to cause pain today. If you have any information on this, or any other cold case, please call law enforcement immediately.

Celebrating Success
Veterans Treatment Court Celebrates Two Graduations
We are happy to report the Veterans Treatment Court recently celebrated two graduations. Our congratulations to Joseph Acero and Christopher Laursen for successfully completing the program!

Mr. Acero served honorably in the U.S. Army. After his time in the service, Mr. Acero ran into legal problems in Jackson and Washington Counties. He was facing up to 30 months in prison for driving under the influence of intoxicants and driving recklessly, but was given a chance to enroll in the Veterans Treatment Court. He trusted the program and never gave up on the process.
Mr. Laursen served in the U.S. Navy. Unfortunately, he became involved with drugs once he left the military and was arrested for possession of methamphetamine in 2019. Based on his military service, Mr. Laursen was given the chance to avoid felony charges by successfully completing this program, and that’s exactly what he did.

The Veterans Treatment Court is designed to help offenders whose honorable military service is somehow linked to their criminal conduct. This program wouldn't be possible without the support of Washington County, the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Washington County Community Corrections, Judge Charles Bailey, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Oregon Defense Attorney Consortium. 

In the Community
Despite the pandemic, our office continues to look for ways to connect with the community we serve.

District Attorney Barton recently gave a presentation to the Rotary Club of Forest Grove. He described the work we do to seek justice and protect our community.

DA Barton also joined Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett in a joint virtual presentation to the Washington County Committee for Community Involvement. The CCI is devoted to the success of community participation in government decision making processes.

Please contact us if you'd like to arrange a presentation from our office for your group or organization.
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