MANHATTAN - Dan Quart will rebuild the Manhattan district attorney’s bloated office and refocus its priorities from win records to public safety and fairness. While some prosecutors might be fearful of the coming changes a Quart administration might bring, Quart will build the office that Manhattanites are demanding. He recently spoke with THE CITY about how he would reform the office to best serve Manhattan.
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On the campaign trail, most candidates for Manhattan district attorney have promised major changes to the storied office. And some have pledged to shrink it.
[...] Assemblymember Dan Quart has said major personnel changes would follow if he wins — citing as a benchmark the 28% staff turnover that took place in the first year of reform prosecutor Larry Krasner’s tenure in Philadelphia.
With the Democratic primary quickly approaching, current and former prosecutors tell THE CITY these campaign-trail promises have stirred up fears of careers ending, and a new boss who will reshape and gut the office.
[...] “I’ve been very direct with the voters about my vision for the office and I would have hiring practices and bring in personnel consistent with that vision,” he told THE CITY. “And that’s how democracy works. That’s why we have elections.”
A Need for Change
[...] As of late May, 1,088 of the office’s 1,514 current staffers are assistant district attorneys or community associates, a role that, according to a spokesperson for the DA’s office, most commonly includes paralegals, investigative analysts and discovery analysts.
Even as arrests have fallen, employment at the DA offices citywide is at historically high levels, according to a 2020 analysis by the Independent Budget Office. Staffing in Manhattan is more than double what it was in 1980, when there were just 706 full-timers — and crime was rampant.
To Brandon Holmes — co-director at the Freedom Agenda, also part of the group pushing a 50% budget cut for the DA — reversing the trend of expanding prosecutors’ offices is overdue.
“We need to draw a clear line in the sand that we’re not going to continue to give them the resources and to have the size and scope that they currently have…to over-police and over-incarcerate specific communities, most often low-income communities of color,” he said.
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