By LOGAN WILBER
Bronx DA Darcel D. Clark requested $3.7 million from the City Council for prosecutor salaries during a preliminary budget hearing Thursday, in an attempt to retain talented prosecutors and close the salary gap between the Bronx and the other four boroughs.
DA Clark told the Committee on Public Safety at City Hall that the average Bronx DA salary was nearly $8,600 less than the estimated average salaries of the other jurisdictions and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office.
Later testimony showed that gap was even larger as each borough DA recited the average salaries of their assistant; the Bronx was the only one under $100,000 per year, at $86,000. The salary discrepancies had caused a number of attorneys to leave the office for higher paying jobs elsewhere.
“Assistant DAs who love their jobs and are performing good work would like to stay in our office, but are forced to leave so they can earn more money to support their families and help ease the burden of their law school debts,” Clark said.
DA Clark also pointed to successes within her office despite staffing setbacks.
In 2016, she said, her office reduced the backlog of misdemeanor cases from 16,500 to 9,300. The office also reduced the arrest to arraignment time from over 24 hours to 22.
Clark admitted the previous wait time was not acceptable. “We were the worst in the city,” Clark said.
In addition to asking for funding for raises, Clark asked for more staff to streamline the judicial process. Clark said the Vertical Prosecution Model used in the Bronx were helping with cases, but that “Vertical prosecution requires more DAs.”
Vertical prosecution means one prosecutor handles a case from the beginning to have better knowledge of the case, which speeds the process since no files have to be transferred and “helps ADAs and witnesses build an important rapport.”
Not only does the office cover all state crimes in the borough, but ADAs are assigned to the Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau, which, she said, now handles 163 indictments and 200 pending felony investigations involving inmates and visitors.
Clark said she is asking for no more than her fair share. “The Bronx gets about 20 percent of the city’s funding to istrict attorneys offices, but last year handled nearly 30 percent of the city’s murders, felony assaults and robberies,” she concluded.
In addition to the $3.7 million proposed for salaries, the budget requested by Clark for 2018 is $72,329,599 which is up from $71,616,239 in 2017