Discovery reform rules put strain on police, prosecutors

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) The Erie County District Attorney’s Office has hired 18 new staffers to help meet the new Discovery Reform rules. Within 15 days of someone being arrested, that defendant and his attorney must have access to everything pertinent to the case against him.

“I created a whole new bureau here for the task,” said John Flynn, district attorney of Erie County. “In addition to the 18 new people, I’ve also spent about $80,000 on new computer equipment where we’ve been able to get all the police agencies out there to upload their documents into the cloud and then I go in that cloud now too and get it, so we’ve streamlined all this.”

But it presents a sudden strain on local departments like Orchard Park Police.

“We now have to provide copies of all 9-1-1 audio transmissions, all of our radio transmissions, all body camera footage of all officers involved in the arrest, all station house video,” said Captain Patrick Fitzgerald, Orchard Park Police Department. “That footage not only has to be found, it has to be downloaded and then transmitted to the D-A’s office within that fifteen day time period.”

New York State Police have even created a seven page checklist of all the things that may be turned over within 15 days of an arraignment.

“We find that taking sworn police personnel, police officers that should be out there catching the criminals instead re pulling video and handling a lot of paperwork requests through this new discovery reform,” said Captain Fitzpatrick.

The Orchard Park Town Board has taken under advisement a request by Orchard Park Police to add an additional civilian staffer to handle the new workload.

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