As parents, we are bombarded with messages about how to raise our children — how to instill values, what values to instill, and so on. Honestly, sometimes I’m just happy to get my 4-year-old to preschool fully dressed, with clean teeth and brushed hair!
We did have a “moment” the other day. If you’re the parent of a 3- or 4-year-old, you’ll understand the significance of what was, technically, a moment. As I drove home from picking my daughter up from preschool, she said, “Mommy, I am thankful for you.” I almost drove off the road! I was flooded with happiness and tears (yes, tears), as finally there was some evidence that our parenting efforts may be paying off. You see, being thankful is something we talk about every night with our daughter during our prayers. We want her to grow up recognizing her blessings and being thankful – no matter what. We try to make sure she understands that we should all take time to be thankful for those blessings in our life, like family, friends, a roof over our head, and shoes on our feet.
The holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on our blessings, a precious time to gather and to remember what’s really important. It can be easy for the sentiment of the season to get lost in all the retail noise or even the political scene. Those little messages of gratitude don’t always make it to the forefront of our social media either, hidden from our feeds because only the most dramatic posts garner enough likes to beat the algorithm. All that aside, if we pay close attention and take time to reflect, it becomes clear that in Delaware County especially, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Like any county, we deal with crime every day: theft, drugs, violence, and recently even the loss of two lives. As tragic as crime can be, our community pulls together to work for the betterment of all. When I reflect on the efforts and lengths gone to by our county partners, I am inspired. I know firsthand how hard law enforcement works to keep our citizens safe, and to bring those who do wrong to justice. I am thankful for their tireless hours of service. I am thankful for the voice on the other end of a 911 call who calms someone and talks them to safety. I am thankful for officers who arrive on scene with only a one-word description – “domestic” – not knowing what is waiting for them behind closed doors. I am thankful for our medics and firefighters who work every hour of every day to save lives. Don’t forget that the job, for our law enforcement officers, our first responders, doesn’t stop once the call is over. What they see every day in their jobs is not something they can just leave at the door. We need to remind them we are thankful for every single one of them. Sure, there is bad in the world – no question. But I encourage you to remember with me that there is an awful lot of good as well.
I’m proud of the cooperative spirit and “do good” philosophy of all our county officeholders, and with that, I’m excited to announce a new project with our criminal justice partners that’s been in the works for over a year. Beginning in January 2020, there will be a new process for filing felony charges. Currently, felony charges are filed first in Municipal Court. The defendant appears before the Municipal Court judge, bond is discussed, and then our office has 10 days to decide whether to present the case to a grand jury or to dismiss the charges.
If someone is indicted, the original case in Municipal Court is transferred to Common Pleas Court because the Municipal Court cannot take further action on a felony charge. What is the benefit of this new process? First and foremost, a more streamlined and efficient process for the filing of felony charges. Additionally, victims of crime will only have to come to one office and one courthouse. Temporary Protection Orders will be filed and heard in one court. Defendants will only have to appear in one court, pay court costs in one court, and have quicker access to a public defender. I am looking forward to implementing this new process in 2020.
As 2019 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on this year. I am truly thankful to serve as your Delaware County prosecutor. I am thankful to be afforded the opportunity to follow my passion, which is protecting your families, fighting for victims, and doing whatever I can to make life better in our Delaware County community. It truly is the best place to live and work. You’ve heard me say it before: The best is yet to come for Delaware County, and I am so thankful to be a part of it!
Melissa A. Schiffel is Delaware County prosecutor.