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Orput: Increased prosecution is a focus

Pete Orput said he wants to lead the Washington County Attorney's Office, and that will mean prosecuting cases himself.

There is a need to prosecute more crimes, Orput said, but there is no funding to add more assistant attorneys. As county attorney, Orput said he would take a caseload and would expect supervising attorneys in the office to do the same.

He said it is important to provide leadership, not to make the county attorney strictly a managerial job.

"I've got experience running prosecution agencies and doing it under budget and doing it through innovative crime prevention and victim support programs that will reduce criminal activity," he said.

The county attorney's office should work closely with police departments and the sheriff's office to target criminal activity. He said he has experience doing that in his current position prosecuting violent crimes in Hennepin County and working with a robbery task force there.

Orput said he would look at any cases where prosecution was declined by the county attorney's office and pushed down to city prosecutors to pursue less-serious charges.

"They're doing a good job, but I think they can all improve," Orput said of Washington County prosecutors. "That comes from having somebody in a leadership position that can motivate them."

If elected, Orput said, he would first observe how the office currently operates and seek input from the assistant attorneys.

The office would not be new to Orput. He worked as an assistant Washington County attorney from 1990 to 1997.

Orput said he was encouraged by law enforcement officers to run for the top county legal job, after it was known that Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson was not seeking re-election this year.

Orput also said one of his goals is to create a domestic abuse "service center" in the county, where abuse victims or others could contact law enforcement officers, victim advocates and other professionals.

He proposes working with city attorneys who prosecute misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases to create the domestic abuse service center.

"It's a dream of mine that I really want to get done," he said.

Orput said he would not push county officials and elected County Board members for a budget increase.

"The immediate issue is that we need to work smarter on behalf of the taxpayers because there aren't resources to bring in more people," he said.

Pete Orput

Age: 55

Residence: Stillwater

Family: Married; three adult children and three adult stepchildren.

Education: William Mitchell College of Law; University of Minnesota.

Experience: Assistant Hennepin County attorney; previously was assistant attorney in Dakota, Washington, Carver and Mille Lacs counties; former deputy and assistant state attorney general; former Minnesota Corrections Department general counsel.