The Spokane County prosecutor on Tuesday pleaded with county commissioners for more money, warning he might have to let some felons go otherwise.
“We are here begging you to help us,” said Prosecutor Jim Sweetser.
Commissioners John Roskelley and Phil Harris said they were sympathetic, but could offer no help to the prosecutor’s office until late July, when the county gets an update on the year’s tax collections.
Harris complimented Sweetser as “the best prosecutor we’ve had in the 28 years I’ve been in this county.”
Commissioner Steve Hasson was less sympathetic.
“I just think it’s too late in the year to be contemplating more resources for the prosecutor’s office,” he said.
The county has about $750,000 in reserve, or enough to keep the government running for one day. Sweetser wants $138,000 of it, primarily to hire a deputy prosecutor, two paralegals and three more clerks.
Sweetser said his staff is overworked because police are making more arrests and Spokane has become more violent.
His attorneys face 20 pending murder trials, including three that could bring the death penalty.
Soon, Sweetser said, he’ll have to decide “that I can’t prosecute … certain felony crimes.
“At that point, I’ll have to go to those victims of crimes and say, ‘I can’t prosecutor your case, there aren’t enough resources. It’s not important enough.”’