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Pierce County DA seeks help from F&P for workload

In the midst of a rising methamphetamine problem in Pierce County, District Attorney Sean Froelich asked the Finance and Personnel Committee to take action at the monthly meeting Aug. 6 and provide support to handle the number of cases he receives.

Froelich requested an appropriate number of prosecutors to balance the workload. This would be accomplished by allocating dollars to the Assistant District Attorney position, filled by Kaley Walker since February 2018, which would transition to full-time.

Estimated funds needed to fulfill this request equal $37,097.89 while existing available funds in the District Attorney's budget equal $36,575.47.

In Froelich's action request to the committee submitted July 26, he wrote, "Public safety is your responsibility too and pointing the finger at the State accomplishes nothing. This is not about being right; it is about doing what is right."

Froelich has requested help from the Committee twice before and received none.

"I'm tired of asking for help and we need it, we're looking for some action behind these words," Froelich said at the meeting Monday night.

Finance and Personnel Committee Chair Jeff Holst acknowledged Froelich's earnestness and dedication to seeking help.

Froelich presented the types of cases he has been overloaded with, including many child protection cases that often are connected with parents influenced by methamphetamine.

Holst said the meth problem in Pierce County was undeniable, likening it to a "mushroom cloud" that results in children also becoming addicted.

The committee asked Froelich how many average hours are typically spent on these cases. Froelich said he could not give a definite answer because he does not catalog hours although he always expects to be working some nights and weekends which inevitably comes with the demands of the job.

"My wife could tell you the number of hours I work because she doesn't have those hours to talk to me," Froelich said.

After Froelich presented his case, committee member Michael Kahlow said he would like to remind Froelich that the committee works to uphold public safety as a primary value and to not deliver his argument as "preachy".

Froelich said he could do that.

Corporate Counsel Brad Lawrence said he was concerned that if the county board said no to the DA's office, that it should be the state's responsibility, then the cases would not be handled.

Froelich said he would not let go of any cases.

"My office knows these kids, I know these families," Froelich said.

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