Opinion column: District attorney reports reduction in crime

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Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

Crime is down 11 percent in Wyandotte County.

That is the message that Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree brought to members of the Congressional Forum Friday, Aug. 16, at Children’s Mercy Park. About 50 persons attended. The Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.

Dupree said that his office is dedicated to “smart prosecution.” This means focusing on prevention through connecting with youth and removing barriers to employment for those rejoining society after serving prison time. Dupree said prosecutors in his office work with the drug and behavioral health courts for those who may have mental health issues as a result of drug addiction. He said it doesn’t make sense to incarcerate those with mental health issues with those who have committed violent crime.

Dupree said one of the main focuses of his office is a program aimed at youths in Wyandotte County schools. It is called BOLDD—Brilliant Outstanding Leaders Determined to be the Difference. The program aims at keeping youths on the right path. Lawyers from Dupree’s office present monthly programs. Thomas Penland, a lawyer on Dupree’s staff, heads this community involvement program.

Dupree said his life changed when he was a 14-year-old student at Wyandotte High School and was able to shadow District Judge Cordell Meeks Jr. He decided to become a lawyer.

Dupree had praise for the Unified Commission who increased the salaries of the lawyers on his staff.

Dupree told of the Conviction Integrity Unit, the first of its type in Kansas. This is an independent review process to correct wrongful convictions. He said that wrongful convictions threaten the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

Dupree is the first black district attorney in Kansas. He has been district attorney since 2017. He has an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and a law degree from Washburn University, Topeka. He and his wife Shanelle Dupree are the parents of four children.

Dupree is the pastor of Grace Tabernacle Family Life Outreach Center. His brother is Timothy Dupree, a Wyandotte County District Judge.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

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