By Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor
(June 21, 2018) Kris Heiser has spent the past seven years in the State’s Attorney’s Office in Wicomico, after her time in Joel Todd’s administration in Worcester ended in 2011, and now she’s hoping to make a full-time return to her home county to prosecute offenders.
She said her approach is methodical, disciplined and detailed.
“I’ve got three overall goals, but the second two can’t really happen without the first one,” she said. “The overarching goal is to shift to community-oriented proactive prosecution.”
Similar to community policing, the idea is to assign certain prosecutors to certain geographic areas within the county and then allowing those prosecutors to establish a rapport with the people.
“You put a face with the name. You go to events, and hopefully you live in the area where you’re assigned so people know what you do and can reach out when people think you can help,” she said. “Someone who was hesitant to come forward before might have a solution.”
Next, she wants to take a multidisciplinary approach to fighting opioid addiction.
“Addiction doesn’t discriminate, families have been touched by addiction everywhere — even mine,” Heiser said.
She said her uncle succumbed to addition at the beginning of the year.
“It’s a huge priority and we have to fight it on every level, and you can only do that if people are talking to each other,” she said. “Everyone has good ideas, and we have to focus on the little bit we can do.”
However, in her mind, addicts and the dealers that supply them should be treated differently. She said addicts should be in treatment while dealers should be in jail.
Finally, her third goal is to protect what she calls “vulnerable victims” like seniors and children.
“I’ve seen the elderly get taken advantage of, or not get the proper treatment or has a family member that is an addict stealing from them. People sometimes fall through the cracks,” she said.
Fixing the issue is first becoming aware of it, she said, and increased contact with the community could lead to increased help for people in these situations.
“Worcester needs a prosecutor that can help make change,” Heiser said. “Being a prosecutor means seeking justice in every case but it doesn’t mean you have to wait until the damage is done.”
For 10 years under five different state’s attorney’s, Heiser said she has been honing the skills, picking what she likes and doesn’t like about individual strategies and preparing for the day when she’d run for state’s attorney.
“The people I’ve hired and supervised are now trying their own drug distribution and robbery cases. I’ve built a good team in Wicomico and I can do it in Worcester,” she said.
She said she went to Wicomico to broaden her experience.
“It was different. More violent, different crime and different people,” she said.
She said it was in this environment where she developed the ideas she would follow through on in this campaign, and would rather focus on those ideas than just trying cases.
“A lot of times people are focused on trial skills as a large portion of the job, and after a decade I’ve tried every kind of case,” she said. “Where I like to focus is on the intangible qualities of a leader: judgment, ethics, treating everyone the same and ensuring everyone gets a fair trial. Seeking justice is the only job.”