District attorney’s job more than prosecution

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

It is important that the Wyandotte County District Attorney be proactive and also focus on crime prevention.

That was the message from Mark Dupree, who became the Wyandotte County District Attorney Jan. 9 of this year. He defeated the Democrat incumbent, Jerry Gorman, last August after a spirited election contest. Dupree spoke at the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum Friday, May 19, at the Sporting Kansas City soccer stadium.

Mark Dupree

Dupree said his office has the responsibility to prosecute violent adult and juvenile criminal cases. However, it is also important for the district attorney to be very visible in the community and take advantage and work with the various community resources that can prevent crime.

Dupree works closely with all law enforcement units in Wyandotte County including the Kansas City, Kansas, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville police departments, the Wyandotte County Sheriff and the campus police officers at the Kansas City Kansas Community College and the Kansas City, Kansas, School District.

Dupree said he has a staff of 60 persons in his office including 26 lawyers. He has high praise for his staff, but said he needs more personnel to handle all the cases in his office.

He said one of the challenges of his office is handling cases involving those who are mentally ill. He said it helps that most of the law enforcement officers in Kansas City, Kansas, have been trained so they know how to deal with mental patients. Unfortunately, there are not adequate places to house these patients, so they may end up with the general population in the Wyandotte County Jail.

Dupree said another important aspect of his office is assisting the victims of crime and explaining to them how the criminal process works. Working to protect abused children is another important aspect of his office.

Dupree, the first black district attorney in Wyandotte County, is a graduate of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and the Washburn School of Law, Topeka. He and his wife Shanelle are the parents of four children. He is also an ordained clergyman.

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