CORVALLIS, Ore. — The district attorney of Benton County is proposing a new idea to stop crimes before they happen. John Haroldson wants to create a specialized prosecutor position to focus on juvenile and mental health cases.
“What I really want to avoid is finding ourselves in that situation where something terrible happens and after the fact we’re saying, we should have known this was a threat,” Haroldson said.
Haroldson wonders if violent crimes like the Clackamas mall shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the Thurston High School shooting years ago in Springfield, could have been stopped before they happened.
“As I’ve continued to see stories of deaths in schools, universities and populated areas, I have to ask myself, what more can we do to prevent a similar incident from occurring in our community,” wonders Haroldson.
So he wants to create a specialized prosecutor position that would focus on juvenile and mental health cases. That person would also meet with a multi-disciplinary team to share information about possible threats.
Haroldson is requesting funding from Benton County. With or without it, he’s not giving up.
“If it’s not funded by the county, I still feel a sense of obligation to do something. I don’t want to wait until something terrible happens before we respond. Rather I want to make sure we’re doing what we can in a reasonable way to protect the citizens in our community,” said Haroldson.
A public hearing on the county’s budget is on Tuesday. A final decision is expected in May.