EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A nearly 30-year-old agreement between the city and El Paso County District Attorney’s Office to expedite criminal charges and bond processes may see an extension in 2022 if the City Council agrees to a renewal in January.
Earlier this month, representatives from the city attorney’s department and DA’s office met to discuss what is known as the District Attorney’s Information Management System.
Earlier this year, the DA’s Office said El Paso Police Department Chief Greg Allen discouraged officers from consulting with DA attorneys on charges and bonds.
The city released a statement to KTSM afterwards saying the program was under review for the programs efficiency.
On Tuesday, the City Council will vote on renewing its agreement with the DA’s office. The total cost of the program would be nearly $160,000 as the council will consider paying the DA’s office nearly $20,000 between January and August.
Statements from the city and DA’s office appear to claim the item will pass.
“The City of El Paso has supported the DIMs program since its inception in 1996 and continues to support the program with improved efficiencies,” a city statement read.
“The DIMS agreement had not been reviewed or updated in 28 years,” a statement from the DA’s office read. “We are happy to have worked with EPPD to enter into a new agreement that addresses changes in technology, use of office space, and other details that reflect changes within the criminal justice system.
The program was created in 1994 between the city and county to allow prosecutors to screen criminal cases presented by law enforcement, within hours of an arrest, to determine if a prosecution is desired.
Generally, when an officer makes an arrest, the officer is able to contact an attorney with the DA’s office to discuss whether charges meet certain elements of an offense and whether enough evidence exists to bring a charge. Once completed, the arresting officer is advised on what bond to request on an arrest warrant for presentation to a magistrate judge.
The program expedites the administrative process as individuals are presented to a magistrate judge. Under the program, a prosecutor is made available on a 24-hour daily basis to coordinate with law enforcement.
In the past, critics have pointed at the potential mishandling of an individual accused of a crime.
Backlog of cases
The city’s statement says personnel in the police department have worked overtime to present criminal cases this year due to the absence of the DIMS program.
It is unclear if the program ended or if police stopped reaching out to the DA’s office.
Earlier this year, when the DA’s office said police chief Greg Allen told his officers to ignore the DIMS program, it was unclear what the nature of the cases were or if it was all cases. And, it is unclear when officers stopped reaching out to prosecutors for consultation on crimes.
Allen did not respond to request for comment from KTSM at the time. And, the city provided a statement in July stating the program was under review. The statement in July also said the city continued paying for the program.