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Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice

May 9, 2008 @ 12:00 am EDT


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This morning our speaker was Nassau County District Attorney, Kathleen Rice. Kathleen has all the youthful enthusiasm we get from newly elected officials. She told us that she never remembers having political ambitions growing up, and her ambition today is to serve two terms and leave. That’s a promise often made and rarely kept.  In her case however, she may be intellectually honest about that., given that she has moved from one success to another in the past.

She spoke about the failure of law enforcement in the area of "white collar crime." According to Ms. Rice white collar crime is not some innocuous crime we can easily ignore. The effects on society are damaging to family lives of the victims. We don’t know how much family violence, divorce, and suicide are attributable to say, a collapse of ENRON. We may not know exactly but we know there is wide spread pain. Rice said her office treats white collar crime as a serious problem, and has addressed it appropriately.

Another big issue with this DA is DWI. Kathleen stated that the innocent victim has no control over the reckless behavior of a drunk driver. We can do all the right things and still be killed by an irresponsible drunk. She gave the example of the drunk driver that drove the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway killing the little girl and the limo chauffeur. DA’s can do a lot in this area and she challenged the audience not to be inured to the consequences just because of the frequency.

 Guns, drugs, and gangs are a scourge to some communities. Rice’s answer that situation is the enlistment of the community while at the same time boosting police presence in the area. By this means the community residents are empowered by taking charge. Once there is a feeling that we are all in this together, they can maintain the safety of the area even after the police presence subsides to normal patrols. 

Related to community involvement is the "weed and seed" program. Here the residents clean up a play area removing trash and debris and then plant flowers and shrubs to enhance an area. And because the community as a whole had so much invested, there is a tendency to protect that rehabilitated playground. DA Rice says that the program has been quite successful.