"Safety is a fundamental right. An essential aspect of being safe is feeling safe. As your District Attorney, I will always prioritize your safety and I will resist extremist efforts to defund and abolish our public safety system."
- Kevin Barton
Safety is a primary responsibility of the District Attorney. The District Attorney works in collaboration with leaders such as the sheriff, police chiefs, and judges to help ensure our public safety system functions effectively.
Under Kevin's leadership as District Attorney, Washington County is one of the safest urban counties on the West Coast. Kevin firmly believes every resident has the right to live, work and raise a family in safety.
Here is an opinion piece Kevin wrote for Washington County newspapers about the role of the District Attorney to ensure community safety.
HELPING CHILDREN AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
Over the last three years Kevin led a group of community leaders to develop a state-of-the-art facility to serve victims of domestic violence and child abuse. The need for this resource is great as almost half of Washington County children who suffer from child abuse live in homes where domestic violence is also present.
This new facility will be called the "Family Peace Center of Washington County" and will address the impact of trauma on children and families (known as "Adverse Childhood Experiences" or "ACEs") with a goal of reducing negative impacts later in life, including involvement in the criminal justice system.
Providing more resources to those who suffer from trauma to keep them out of the criminal justice system is an important criminal justice reform.
Kevin spearheaded an effort to obtain $6.65 million dollars in funding from the Oregon Legislature in June 2021 for this project.
Here is a KOIN TV story about the Family Peace Center initiative.
Here is a Pamplin newspaper article about the Family Peace Center initiative.
OREGON DIVERSITY LEGAL JOB FAIR
In 2020 Kevin led a public-private effort to establish Oregon's first and only diversity job fair for legal professionals. The mission of the Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair is to bring together legal professionals who will reflect the identity and values of the people and clients they serve. Kevin established this annual event as part of his effort to ensure the employees of the Washington County District Attorney's Office represent our diverse community.
The first annual job fair occurred in March 2021 and was a tremendous success. Legal employers throughout Oregon provided financial support to sponsor the event, with job fair career seekers attending from throughout Oregon and across the nation. The second annual job fair will occur in March 2022.
Here is a link to the Oregon Diversity Job Fair website.
Here is a link to a KOIN TV news story about the event.
ESTABLISHING SPECIALTY PROSECUTION UNITS
When Kevin was elected as District Attorney in 2018, he worked to modernize the office by establishing new specialty prosecution units.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT
In 2019, under Kevin's leadership, the Washington County DA's Office formed a new Domestic Violence Unit. This unit includes prosecutors and victim advocates who work in collaboration with specialized domestic violence law enforcement officers and community providers such as the Family Justice Center of Washington County and the Domestic Violence Resource Center (DVRC). The Domestic Violence Unit helps protect vulnerable victims and hold violent offenders accountable.
Here is a KPTV TV news article about the Domestic Violence Unit.
COLD CASE UNIT
In 2020, Kevin led an effort to obtain federal grant funding to establish the District Attorney's Cold Case Unit. In partnership with the Washington County Sheriff's Office and Major Crime Team, this unit reviews unsolved violent crimes dating back to over 40 years ago to determine whether advances in forensic science might help solve the case. The goal of the Cold Case Unit is to provide justice to crime victims and hold offenders accountable, no matter how much time has passed.
Here is a KGW TV news article about the DA's Cold Case Unit.
BIAS CRIMES MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM
In 2021, Kevin led an effort to obtain $300,000 in federal grant funding to establish Oregon’s first District Attorney’s Bias Crimes Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The Bias Crimes MDT will improve community outreach and enhance the investigation and prosecution of bias crimes.
Here is a Pamplin news article about the DA’s Bias Crimes Multidisciplinary Team
BUILDING BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING
Kevin is one of the founders and an ongoing steering committee member of the Building Bridges of Understanding event series. Established in 2016, this initiative brings together leaders from law enforcement and civil society organizations to examine and understand racial and ethnic disparities and explore actions required to address and remove them. An annual community-wide event is held each fall at the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard.
Click here to read more about the Building Bridges of Understanding initiative.
SPECIALTY AND TREATMENT COURTS
Kevin has ensured that the Washington County District Attorney's Office prioritizes smart policies that address root causes of crime, promote rehabilitation and hold offenders accountable.
Under Kevin's leadership, the Washington County DA's Office is a statewide leader in the use of innovative specialty and treatment courts, operating approximately a dozen different programs. For example, these include adult and juvenile Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and a Veterans Treatment Court. Additionally, Kevin is spearheading two new specialty programs: a Homeless Specialty Court to help homeless defendants achieve stable housing and avoid the criminal system and a DA's Mental Health Diversion Program to help non-violent defendants with mental health issues receive treatment.
Click here to read more about current Washington County DA's Office specialty court programs.
Kevin believes the District Attorney's Office should reflect the values of our community. After he was elected as District Attorney in 2018, he transformed the office to prioritize community engagement and transparency.
Under Kevin's leadership, District Attorney's Office personnel are frequent guest speakers throughout the county at various community groups, schools, churches and other organizations. The District Attorney's Office has an enhanced online presence with quarterly newsletters and interactive social media accounts to ensure community engagement and access. Additionally, the District Attorneys Office website provides routine updates on criminal cases and initiatives, along with a complete policy manual for any member of the public to review.
Kevin routinely speaks with members of the public and the press. He has appeared in multiple TV and radio news programs and provided interviews to countless journalists regarding public safety issues that affect Washington County.
Additionally, Kevin has authored multiple published articles for our community. Here are several examples:
Safety — A Fundamental Right, but Not Guaranteed (WCDA website, October 2021)
Public Safety With Responsible Reforms a Priority for DA (Pamplin newspapers, Sept. 2021)
Legislature Should Respect Will of Oregon Voters and Keep Measure 11 Intact (The Oregonian, Feb 2021)
Ensuring Public Safety Remains an Essential Duty During Pandemic (The Oregonian, April 2020)
Justice System Should be Grounded in Clear Rules (The Oregonian, Aug. 2019)
SERVING OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
As District Attorney, Kevin has worked with other leaders including the sheriff, police chiefs and judges to ensure our public safety system continues to function despite COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, District Attorney's Office personnel have prosecuted thousands of crimes and protected thousands of victims.
Under Kevin's leadership, the District Attorney's Office has continued to operate in person with appropriate safeguards to serve our community. For example, in the fall of 2020, Kevin helped lead an effort to establish remote court at the county fairgrounds to process a backlog of criminal cases caused by pandemic restrictions.
Click here for an article about the remote court efforts.
District Attorney Kevin Barton standing in one of the remote courtrooms set up at the Washington County fairgrounds
Photo credit: Jaime Valdez, Pamplin Media Group