To the editor:

I appreciate DA Michael Murray’s response to my letter to the editor dated Jan. 10. Mr. Murray called my office late last week. We talked for about an hour.

First I’ll admit that the crime was reported on the 30th. I was looking at the suspect’s time card and the sequence of events began on the 28th so mea culpa. I am glad that by the 16th of January, Mr. Murray was familiar enough with my case to notice the date discrepancy in his letter.

The first thing Mr. Murray said to me was that I should have talked directly to him before I wrote a letter to the editor. Let me restate that I called his office, and my husband visited the office personally and we got no information and we were not referred to a victim witness coordinator. David was told by the receptionist that they knew nothing about the case. Mr. Murray informed me that his office could not tell me anything about a case which they had not received. However, the police department told me over the phone, and David to his face, that they sent the case to Mr. Murray’s office on the 2nd of January. The police officers insisted that they needed a warrant in order to arrest the suspect even though (I was told) they had a confession that evening. Mr. Murray told me that they should have arrested the suspect if they had a confession. The fact that they didn’t was no fault of his office. There seems to be some dispute as to these facts, which did not originate with me. I, unfortunately it seems, took the word of the police department. There seems to be some sort of communication problem between the two entities.

Mr. Murray wanted to know who at the police department told me the case was delivered to his office on Jan. 2. He said that his office signs a receipt when a case is delivered. I could not give him a name since I did not question the person who answered the phone at the police department and it was not I who visited the police department. Since I could not name names, Mr. Murray said it didn’t matter.

I asked questions in my letter to the editor to which Mr. Murray gave me thoughtful answers. One was: “is he over worked?” The answer was: “My office reviews and files more cases than any county our size in the state of Texas and we do it with less staff than most other offices.”

Now my question to this community and those who get to exercise control over it: Why? Why is Brown County so full of crime that Mr. Murray has to use triage to decide which cases “deserve” prosecution? Triage was the word Mr. Murray used to describe the situation in his office.

The U.S. Department of Defense defines “triage” as follows: “The evaluation and classification of casualties for purposes of treatment and evacuation. It consists of the immediate sorting of patients according to type and seriousness of injury, and likelihood of survival, and the establishment of priority for treatment and evacuation to assure medical care of the greatest benefit to the largest number.” I agree with Mr. Murray, I think Brown County really is in an emergency situation and is losing the so called War on Drugs and crime. What are we doing about it? Do we need a new plan of attack? Or are we in denial? Or do we accept defeat?

I asked if Mr. Murray’s values were skewed? I did not write “his values are skewed.” I asked for an explanation as to why things were the way they were. Mr. Murray answered my questions, which I appreciate. Mr. Murray assured me that he would professionally prosecute this case no matter that I had written a letter to the editor asking impertinent questions. This is reassuring. I appreciate the professional attitude of our DA.

I disagree with Mr. Murray over the relative importance of property crime compared to the “violent” crime allegedly commited which I used as an example for contrast. Collectively, property crime in Brown County is in the millions of dollars. If I steal in appropriate small increments from the right kind of people, apparently I will escape prosecution because property crime is considered “unimportant” by both the DA and the police department compared to other kinds of crimes.

Millions of dollars in theft is what supports our illegal drug industry. This is a nice subsidy for this industry. That is why a stolen bicycle is as important as a bank robbery or an alleged assault on a police office. Property crime and the drug abuse which it supports affects more people on a daily basis. It grinds down the community bit by bit. We need to establish a priority of “treatment” to assure “care” providing the greatest benefit to the largest number of citizens in this “disaster.” That is the true meaning of triage, not trying to save the worst patient but trying to benefit the greatest number of people. Property crime is a drug-related crime. Property crime is silent violence against this community. Everyone has felt it or been a victim of it. Everyone pays for it but the perpetrator.

I would also like to point out to the two recent letter writers complaining about the deplorable state of local restaurants that the fact that our work force is infected with illegal drugs directly contributes to the kind of service they complain about. No health department inspection is going to improve the root cause of these complaints.

Lastly, I really appreciate the way Mr. Murray didn’t blame me the victim for “letting a fox in the hen house.” Will the DA offer free criminal histories of prospective employees to the employers of Brown County?

Mary Stanley

The Turtle Restaurant

Bear Feet Shoes

Brownwood