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Wyandotte County DA challenger pledges to improve transparency, police relations

Mark Dupree and Kristiane Bryant WyCo DA
Posted at 5:32 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 18:32:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree's challenger says she will do better on issues of transparency, relationships with police and victim advocacy.

One of the accomplishments Dupree highlights from his time as DA is challenging an unfair judicial system, especially when it comes to police relations with communities of color.

"I believe that the justice system should work fairly and impartially for everyone, including law enforcement," Dupree said in an interview with 41 Action News.

Dupree's primary opponent in the DA's race, Kristiane Bryant, agrees with that statement, but she doesn't think his office is hitting the mark in several ways.

She told 41 Action News that violent crime is up and violent criminals are receiving extremely lenient plea deals.

"For example, charging case resolutions by plea or trial," Bryant said. "There's not a lot of consistency there and that's a real issue because when you don't have consistent policies and procedures, that means people are impacted differently when they're similarly situated."

Since the start of the year, nearly 200 felony suspects were released from jail because they weren't charged in time. Dupree said that decision is ultimately up to a judge.

"One, will they come back to court and two, is it still safe for the community for them to get out," Dupree said. "And that has occurred and over 100 individuals has been released because of this pandemic."

Bryant currently works in the Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutor's office and said staff there are still continuing to prosecute criminals, even during the pandemic.

"We're not doing jury trials because they're suspended through October. But we're getting cases charged, getting them moving through the system," Bryant said. "We didn't want a huge backlog at the end of this pandemic. I think in Wyandotte County they're just failing to get things moving through the system."

Dupree said his office is still prosecuting violent criminals. Bryant disagrees, saying violent offenders have been let out only to commit crimes again.

"I really think part of that is lack of partnership between law enforcement and prosecutors to get a cohesive strategy," Bryant said.

She said the relationship between the prosecutor's office and the police department started deteriorating after Dupree was elected, but she doesn't think it has to do entirely with Dupree critiquing how police went after suspects.

Dupree said he has a "great working relationship" with police.

"We may not agree on everything, but ultimately they have a job to do and so do I," Dupree said.

Dupree also pushed for a Conviction Integrity Unit, which looks into potential wrong convictions. Bryant is supportive of the unit, but says there isn't enough transparency surrounding it.

"The only case we've heard about as a community is Lamonte McIntyre," Bryant said. "Since that case happened, which was about three years ago, we have not heard the results of a single review out of that unit."

Bryant says if she's elected, she will make sure victims are being heard because it is one of the primary roles of the DA's office.

"I've had several people who've told me they have a case under review, and it seems to be child sexual abuse allegations are an issue, those cases have been under review for more than a year and they can't get a call back from the office," Bryant said.

41 Action News sent both candidates a survey about their key concerns and what they hope to accomplish if elected.

Find both of their responses on the 41 Action News election page.