Rogers County DA Matt Ballard Voices Opposition To SQ 780

Friday, June 16th 2017, 6:01 pm

It's a training day in Rogers County for law enforcement, as they prepare for what the DA calls a fundamental shift away from prosecuting lesser crimes.

He doesn't like it.

"What my experience has been, as someone in law enforcement, is that when you reduce penalties and at the same time reduce treatment options,” said Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard. “You're going to see an increase in crime."

State Question 780 reclassifies some felony drug and property crimes as less serious misdemeanors. It was intended to cut down on prison sentences and save money, but Ballard believes it goes too far.

"Taking stolen property to a pawn shop that's less than $1,000 that wasn't taken in a burglary or robbery will no longer be a crime, so they've legalized that,’ he explained.

The change will mainly impact the prosecution of people caught with drugs, but former narcotics agent Brian Suber says that's what leads to most other crimes.

“These drug crimes often manifest themselves in violent crimes, in robberies,” Suber stated.

And now, many of the cases will essentially be a ticket that never goes to court.

"And it affects our ability to meet the challenge that drugs and property crimes give us every day,” Suber said.

As it stands now, the change in the law takes effect July 1, and it couldn't be substantially changed until the next legislative session.