Published: October 7, 2021
DISTRICT ATTORNEY BRENT COOPER SEEKS RE-ELECTION
It’s difficult to believe that it’s been over seven years since I was sworn in as District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District. I am still extremely honored and humbled that the people of this district chose to trust me with such an important position. In the seven years since being sworn in, I have worked very hard to live up to the promises I made during my campaign. The overarching promise I made to the people was that I would put my years of experience as a prosecutor to work for them in an effort to make our community safer. I pledged to run an honest and open DA’s office free from “good ole boy” politics. I can attest that I have striven every day to achieve those goals.
During my campaign, I also made more specific promises that I would like to discuss at this time. Throughout my fourteen years as an Assistant District Attorney, I saw ways that the DA’s office could improve, and I promised to implement changes to enact those improvements. I will list some of those promises and my efforts to fulfill them below:
I promised to make the DA’s office more accessible and open for Victims of Crime. The Victim Witness Coordinator is the lifeline for victims of crime in the DA’s office. They are the main point of contact for victims and also operate as interpreters and guides through the confusing criminal justice system. When I took office, there were two (2) Victim Witness Coordinators in this office, which services four counties. I knew we needed more. Through pursuing state funds as well as seeking grant funding, I have increased the number of Victims Witness Coordinators from two to six, tripling the staff specifically available to assist victims. In the future, I will continue to seek ways to make my office better able to assist victims of crime. I always remind myself that, out of everyone in the justice system, the victim is the only one there not by choice.
I promised to hold Offenders more accountable for their crimes. I can say without hesitation that within my office is a group of the best trial attorneys in Middle Tennessee. Because of their decades of combined experience and skill in the courtroom, my Assistant District Attorneys are able to pursue each case with one goal in mind: to seek justice. All of the prosecutors in my office are mandated to prosecute every case based solely on the facts of each case and the law that applies. They know to seek the maximum punishment allowable for repeat offenders and violent offenders. They know that first time offenders may need an opportunity to change directions and make better life decisions. Above all, they understand that public safety is the paramount goal of this office. In future releases and posts, I will go more in depth into cases my office has prosecuted, but I will point out that, from day one of my tenure, we have successfully prosecuted the most difficult and serious offenses with great success.
I promised to work more closely with Law Enforcement. I made it a requirement for my Assistant DA’s to make their personal cell phone and home phone numbers available for all law enforcement in the district. It is crucial that law enforcement officers be able to reach a prosecutor at all times. Experience has taught us that it is much easier to field a question from an officer at 3 a.m., from the scene, than to attempt to correct a mistake after a case gets to court. All of my offices have an open-door policy for law enforcement officers and investigators. My Assistant DA’s and I are also available for training and legal updates to all agencies in the district.
I promised to revitalize the Drug Task Force. When I was sworn in as DA, the 22nd Judicial District Drug Task Force consisted of one agent, paid out of the DTF’s grant funds. As you can imagine, it is difficult for one person to have any real impact on drug investigations across a four-county district. Less than a year later, 22 officers, from agencies across the district, were sworn in as DTF agents. This enabled a vast sharing of resources and manpower. I also appointed Bill Doelle (the most experienced drug investigator in Middle Tennessee) as Director of the Task Force. Since 2014, the 22nd DTF has made thousands of drug cases, across all four counties in the district, including arrests and seizures related to Heroin, Methamphetamine, and Fentanyl.
I promised to Re-Open Cold Case Homicides. During my time as an Assistant District Attorney, I became aware of the fact that there were numerous unsolved homicides in this district. I made it a priority to re-open and look into as many of those as possible. The first step to doing this was hiring two experienced and dedicated Criminal Investigators. Those investigators have put their experience to work and have solved several cold case homicides. Included in those are: the 2009 murder of Gary Reese in Maury County, the 1994 murder of Christopher Heiss in Maury County, the 2001 murder of 15-month-old Jeffrey Kelton Skaggs in Maury County, the 1990 murder of Larry Hughes in Giles County, the 2015 murder of “Fat” Sam Passarella in Lawrence County, and the 2009 murder of Nastasia Mosely in Maury County. All of the aforementioned cases have resulted in arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. The investigation into the 1991 Murder of Pam McCall resulted in the arrest of accused Serial Killer Clark Perry Baldwin, who is also charged with two similar murders in Wyoming. His case is still pending. As I write this, there are numerous other investigations of unsolved homicides from across the district.
DUI Prosecutions. I have maintained a grant-funded DUI Prosecutor position in order to be more effective at keeping impaired drivers off of our streets. Since 2014, this specialized prosecutor has prosecuted over 4,000 DUI cases in Maury and Lawrence counties with a 87% conviction rate.
Child Support Collections. Since taking office, I have worked to improve the collection of child support for the children of this district. Although this is a thankless and difficult job, my staff continues to improve and work hard. In fact, they are consistently ranked in the top 5 offices in the state for collection of child support.
As you can see, I have worked hard since being elected to keep promises made during my campaign. In addition, I have kept the most important promise I made to the voters: to be an honest, impartial prosecutor who does his job based solely on the facts and the law of each case, and without regard to any political influences brought to bear. I am humbly asking that you continue to trust me as your District Attorney General for another term, beginning September 1, 2022. Thank you.