Thomas Quinn discusses priorities as Bristol County’s District Attorney

From The Standard Times
By Curt Brown
February 25, 2015

NEW BEDFORD — Thomas M. Quinn III is still getting his feet wet as Bristol County’s district attorney and is slowly laying out his vision and priorities for the office.

“There’s a lot of things I want to do, but I’m taking it one day at a time,” the 54-year-old Quinn said Tuesday, while meeting with The Standard-Times’ Editorial Board. Quinn, the former co-first assistant district attorney under District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, was appointed last month by Gov. Charlie Baker, following Sutter’s election as mayor of Fall River.

Quinn and his top prosecutors will be sworn in by Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito during a special ceremony at 4 p.m. today at Bishop Connolly High School. He will serve as county prosecutor until the state elections in 2016, when he must run for the remaining two years of Sutter’s term. He has indicated he intends to run next year in what will be his first try for elective office.

He said he plans to continue the office’s policy of detaining suspects charged with possession of illegal firearms; wants to expand the domestic violence unit with an emphasis on addressing the problem of repeat offenders; and work with lawmakers to change the state’s wiretap law to allow secretly-obtained recordings involving gang members to be admissible in courts.

Quinn said domestic violence cases and the protection of “the mother and her children” have always been priorities for him. He promised, though, to look into the state requirement that information about domestic abuse cases on police arrest and incident reports be redacted when they are released to the media.

The new district attorney said he is open to the idea of having either a cyber crime unit or a specific staff member whose duties would include investigating everything from online prostitution to scams against the elderly.

“That’s something I will be reviewing,” he told the Editorial Board. “Whether I create a unit or (assign) a person, that’s on my radar.”
Quinn said he will not be reluctant to investigate allegations of wrongdoing involving police unless he has a personal relationship with the officer. “I think there has to be fair treatment of all citizens and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

While he said he has sympathy for the suspects whose criminal acts are fueled by their drug addictions, he would view it sternly if they committed violent crimes to support their habits, he said.

“It’s a tragedy,” he said of the personal and emotional damage caused by drugs. “But it depends on what they’re doing. If they’re committing armed robberies, the public must be protected.”

He said he believes in the practice of targeting offenders and directing his office’s resources at those who are inflicting the most damage.

“I need to focus on the people committing the crimes in the county,” he said. “We have to put away the people who are hurting people. I know the people I’m putting in jail deserve to be in jail.”

Original source: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20150225/NEWS/150229665