|Coroner Zach Lysek is "very excited"|
District Attorney John Morganelli presented his last budget from his 28 years as the county's top prosecutor. It is one that completely fulfills a promise he made in his first campaign, when he said the office needed to transition to an office of full-time prosecutors.
When he was first elected, there were nine full-time and two part-time prosecutors.Even the District Attorney was a part-time office. Now the District Attorney is a full-time position, and 19 of his 21 assistants are full-time. If his proposed budget is approved, the office will have 21 full-time prosecutors. His final two part-timers, John Obrecht and Richard Pepper, will resign at the end of the year.
Morganelli told Council that he has accomplished everything he set out to do, but now the office needs "a new set of eyes." He hopes he has laid a "good foundation" for his successor.The next DA will deal with "changing technology," extending from cell phones to the body cameras police officers now wear.
He was extremely complimentary of the Regional Crime Center started by Lehigh County DA Jim Martin, along with the forensic center at DeSales University. "In today's world, in almost every crime,we take someone's cell phone or computer,." he noted.
Speaking of forensic centers, Coroner Zach Lysek's forensic center is on target to be operational by September, 2020. He was before Council, too, to justify his budget.
"Be polite," Council President Ron Heckman warned his colleagues. "He takes the pictures when it's all over."
Though Lysek looked like he's ready for a body bag himself, he claimed to be "very excited."
Lysek stressed the importance of digital forensics in explaining the cause or manner of death. In fact, it is his one work that helped Colonial Regional police discover what happened when a Lower Nazareth woman suffering died in 2017 after ingesting what she thought was Percocet, but what was actually a combination of heroin and fentanyl. Lysek was able to analyze cellphone records and find the dealer.
Lysek said the new forensic center will be "cutting edge technology," and he plans to work together with DeSales. But over time, the money spent on DeSales will decrease.
He also said radiology and patholgy residents from local hospitals will be welcome. This will generate no revenue, but Lysek said it is "good for society."
Sheriff Rich Johnston also presented his budget. In it, he takes aim at a county-wide problem - salary compression. Very few sergeants are willing take the leap to Lieutenant because, without overtime, they make less money. He has proposed increases. This is a signal, at least to me, that Executive Lamont McClure is approaching this problem incrementally, department by department.