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Federal Way staffer streamlines police court case communication
When it comes to the region's court system, Federal Way police staff member Pam Hall is an expert.
Hall is the go-between for the Federal Way Police Department and King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (PAO). When officers are subpoenaed, prosecutors and paralegals rely on Hall to pass on the information. Hall is receiving the Outstanding Prosecuting Attorney's Office Partner award in late April for her work.
"She's clearly very deserving," deputy chief of police Andy Hwang said. "The work she's done clearly reflects positively on all of us here at the police department."
The language on the nomination form reads as follows: "The PAO is only able to carry out its mission because of the skill and dedication of other partners in our practice. Nominees should include those partners who maintain excellent relations and have demonstrated a high degree of skill and dedication in the service of a case handled by the PAO over the past year."
Hall is unsure who recommended her for the award, but is fairly certain it was a King County prosecutor who appreciates her effort to ensure Federal Way officers appear to testify in court whenever they are needed.
Officers must be given advanced notice of when they are needed as a witness in a court case. Because the dates and times of court appearances shift so frequently due to availability of the court staff, witnesses, the defendant and others, keeping officers up-to-date on when they are expected to appear in court is a tricky full-time job.
It's a job that Hall took on willingly. Hall has been with the Federal Way police since its inception in 1996. Her official title is administrative assistant. She came to Federal Way from the Los Angeles Police Department, where she was a patrol officer.
When Hall came to Federal Way, she discovered the much smaller department did things differently than L.A. Each division in the L.A. department, which boasts around 8,000 law enforcement officials, has a person responsible for making sure everyone else in the division knows when they've been subpoenaed, Hall said. Not so in Federal Way.
Hall gave this example: Federal Way officers would get a subpoena listing Monday as the court date. They'd arrive ready to testify, but due to scheduling, the case would be moved to Thursday. Come Thursday, they'd again arrive to court. They had nobody to help keep them informed on what was expected of them, Hall said.
In Federal Way, "there just wasn't anybody," Hall said. "I knew there was a need for it."
Before anyone really knew what was going on, Hall stepped into the role. She now knows every King County prosecuting attorney and paralegal by name and phone number, she said. She knows the schedule of each of Federal Way's officers. If an officer is expected in court during the day, but he or she works graveyard shifts, Hall is able to readily tell the prosecuting attorney it may take some time to notify the officer.
Hall takes her job seriously. She makes available a book of upcoming court dates and which officers are needed to testify. Every night, she updates a court line. Officers call and hear a list of names that are required to appear in court the next day. She also carries a phone nearly constantly. Prosecutors and paralegals contact her at all hours to let her know who needs to appear to testify pronto.
Simply put, Hall makes prosecutors' and paralegals' jobs a whole lot easier. If it weren't for Hall, they would need the names and contact information for each Federal Way officer requested to testify in a case. They would then need to personally get in touch with each officer to let him or her know they are needed in court. If there were a date or time change, they must again contact the officers and let them know that.
To makes matters worse, prosecutors and paralegals are not aware of officers' scheduled shifts. They do not know when an officer is away on vacation. They have no way to ensure the officer has checked a voicemail or an e-mail and is aware of what is being asked of them.
"It's a nightmare (for prosecutors and paralegals) to try to get everybody to court," Hall said.
Despite all the work included in the job, Hall said she loves it and considers it a hobby. Federal Way is the only department regionally, to Hall's knowledge, that has a person doing her job. Hall knew the department couldn't spare an officer to fill the position, so she did it instead, she said.
"I'm just doing my job," Hall said. "All I do is get people to court."