Challenger seeks to unseat Rutland state's attorney
10/31/02 12:00AM By Nina Keck
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(Host) Voters in Rutland County will choose their state's attorney on Tuesday. Long time incumbent Jim Mongeon faces Democratic Challenger Lamar Enzor, a deputy state's attorney in Windsor County.
VPR's Nina Keck has more:
(Keck) Lamar Enzor says relations between local law enforcement agencies and the public prosecutors' office in Rutland have worsened and he says it's time to address that.
(Enzor) "As one law enforcement officer expressed it to me, the prosecutor should know where the coffee machine is in the police station. That kind of connection with the police officers, for whatever reason, has deteriorated over the years and needs to be renewed."
(Keck) Enzor, a 41-year-old deputy state's attorney in Windsor County, says if he's elected to be Rutland County state's attorney, he'll take a proactive stance on crime by working more closely and more cooperatively with local police.
(Enzor) "The frustration level is kept much more under control when there is better communication between the prosecutor's office and law enforcement. Very often the law enforcement officers are expressing frustration because they never had an understanding as to why the case was handled that way, or what happened with the case. They hear about it after the fact and they're obviously and understandably angry because they don't know why."
(Keck) Rutland City Police Captain Scott Tucker says the police department's relationship with the state's attorney's office is good. But Tucker admits officers are frustrated when certain cases, such as check forgeries, disorderly conduct or noise complaints are not fully prosecuted because of the case load in the state's attorney's office.
State's Attorney Jim Mongeon understands their frustration, but says with more and more arrests being made, his office has to set priorities. Mongeon says he asked the Legislature for an additional prosecutor but was turned down:
(Mongeon) "There's frustration throughout. For example, by us not getting that additional prosecutor position, it has meant that we cannot do all the things that we want to do. And yet, we have increased the filings during this year. We are filing more than 100 misdemeanors every month."
(Keck) Mongeon says strong ties with local law enforcement agencies are vital and the 54-year-old says his office has them:
(Mongeon) "I think we have a very good working relationship with the police, who are out in the field actually doing the work. But we also do trainings periodically where we go out to the various offices, for example, to Castleton outpost, Rutland City Police. And for example with Rutland City, we accommodate their shifts. Deputy that I have for DUI and myself went out for 6:00 a.m. meetings with police because that's when we could get together with their shifts."
(Keck) Mongeon says his strong working relationships with Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and United States Attorney Peter Hall are also beneficial to his job as a county prosecutor. But Mongeon says his 24 years of experience in the Rutland County state's attorney's office as his biggest asset:
(Mongeon) "We know what's going on in Rutland. We know who's involved, we know who the players are, we know what the connections are. We're putting that stuff together on a daily basis. So therefore, we are at running speed at this point. Very difficult office for someone to come into."
(Keck) Challenger Lamar Enzor argues that his more varied experience is an even bigger asset for Rutland County. Enzor worked alongside Jim Mongeon as a deputy state's attorney in Rutland County from 1995 to 1997. He was in private practice in Rutland City for several years after that, before becoming a deputy state's attorney in Windsor County. Enzor also spent a year as a special prosecutor for the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force.
With crime growing, Enzor says being a state's attorney is not easy. But he says blaming shortcomings on a lack of resources is not a valid excuse.
(Enzor) "I think for any government agency resources are always an issue. But quite frankly, I know this office. I've worked with people in this office. I know the administrative personnel. I know many of the police officers in this county. I know the resources that we have and I don't think they're being used as efficiently as possible. And that's where I would come in and try to reassess the types of priorities that have been set and try to reprioritize."
(Keck) Voters will have their chance to decide on Tuesday.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Nina Keck in Rutland.