Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli made an appearance at Bath’s second Neighborhood Watch Group meeting on Wednesday, January 16. DA Morganelli took some time to teach residents about the district attorney’s office and answer questions.
DA Morganelli made it known that he is a staunch proponent of neighborhood watch groups.
“In order to have safe communities,” he said, “the citizens are the eyes and ears.”
The Northampton County District Attorney’s Office is one of the largest offices in the state, outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. DA Morganelli is assisted by 21 ADAs and seven county detectives, along with several crime victims’ advocates.
Because criminal law is so specialized, DA Morganelli said, the DA’s office is made up of several units, each with a specific focus on one crime: domestic violence, violent crime, DUI, sexual assault, juvenile crimes, drugs, and white collar crimes. An appellate unit and grand jury are also part of the DA’s office.
Overall, DA Morganelli estimates these units prosecute 4,000 cases each year. About 44 percent of those are DUI cases. Another 24 percent are drug cases, while another 22 percent are violent crime cases, which DA Morganelli says are driven by drugs and alcohol.
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, “we are seeing a huge, huge impact on our criminal justice system,” DA Morganelli said.
DA Morganelli took some time to comment on issues directly facing Bath, including Bath’s decision to leave the Colonial Regional Police Department.
“[I believe that] local government decides what is best for you,” he said, “[and] it can only work if this is what the citizens want.”
He said, from his perspective, the change in the borough is working well.
He also addressed residents’ concerns in regards to hate vandalism targeting Sacred Heart Church. There have been four to five incidents of vandals posting hateful messages and posters on the property of the church and school.
DA Morganelli said the case is on the radar and he is working it with the Pennsylvania State Police. While he could not comment further on the matter, he did say he believes the crimes are driven by allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
“These cases are difficult,” he said. “We are looking at all angles.”