San Juan County District Attorney Rick Tedrow recently announced his candidacy for re-election on a platform of developing crime-prevention programs for the county’s youth and working hand-in-hand with law enforcement to be tough on hardened criminals.
Tedrow, who was elected to the position in 2008, has worked as a private practice attorney and as an assistant district attorney in San Juan County. Throughout the years he has seen many of the same repeat offenders coming through the system. He hopes his office can curb that trend by working with area law enforcement agencies to find the greatest charges and prosecute career criminals to the greatest extent of the law.
“We are the central location. We want to be able to identify and prosecute our repeat customers,” he said. This would be the 15 percent of people in San Juan County who choose to break the law.
“I think we’ve got a wonderful society where 85 percent of the people are honest and hard-working. Fifteen percent choose to do it another way,” Tedrow said, adding that he has studied crime trends in that region and noticed decreases in activity when the county’s career criminals are behind bars. “We see the impact it has, and we need to be able to coordinate.”
Tedrow envisions a system, where his attorneys work with all police agencies to access information about cases involving the same individuals, so if charges are pending in Farmington and in Aztec against the same individual, the DA can coordinate and bring those charges to the court at the same time. This would be much like a task force set up by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to track repeat offenders.
“These are the same criminals who are constantly causing the problems,” he explained.
There also has been a coordination of efforts in dealing with drunken driving arrests, as the DA is now handling prosecutions for the sheriff’s office, Aztec and Bloomfield police departments.
Tedrow also has an idea to assist those who maybe are entering the criminal justice system for the first time. He has set up pre-prosecution diversion programs for drug users and domestic violence offenders. Through these programs the person facing charges goes through a series of counseling sessions and meetings with probation officers to get their lives in order. If they are successful the charges are dropped.
“Throwing them in jail is not always the answer,” the DA said. “We wanted an avenue so those who make a mistake have an avenue to address the problem.”
He would like to prevent these crimes from happening again by fixing the person’s problem and creating a better society.
“If you go deal drugs in school zone, I’m going to fight the case all the way,” Tedrow said.
He also hopes to combat crime by giving children and youth a positive outlet and way to spend their time. Being a volunteer football coach and baseball coach for his three children, Tedrow knows sports. He envisions a program modeled after the Police Athletic League, where the community comes together and gives children productive activities in which to involve themselves. After he gets the sporting program up and running, he would like to focus on children interested in music and the arts.
“It’s not my intention to fund these activities. I wouldn’t ask that of the taxpayers,” he said. Tedrow would like to be the go-to-guy that coordinates the efforts – be the liaison.
Throughout his term as DA, Tedrow has spent time in Santa Fe lobbying for good bills and speaking out against bad bills. He also has worked on the budget that comes his way. Since he took office, the DA’s budget was cut 16 percent. Through creative budgeting he has avoided lay-offs and kept the office running smoothly, he said.
He also has planned and organized the construction of a new district attorney’s office in Downtown Farmington. “I’m excited about the new building. We’re going to be breaking ground soon,” Tedrow said. “This is a place where serious business goes on – it’s a serious situation, we need a serious setting.”
The current office is in disrepair with leaking roofs, water pipe problems and a maze of offices. The new facility has been designed for privacy and safety offering such features as counseling areas, multiple offices and a large meeting room for trainings.
When Tedrow is not fighting crime, he is spending time with his wife, Barbara and their three children. “I’m reliving my youth with my kids and I’m very involved with my wife helping her,” he said. Barbara owns Gold Star Academy and is working on programs for children ages birth through high school. The DA wants to be there to help her out as well.