Warren Montgomery is still measuring his tenure in days rather than decades, but the new district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes is already claiming a stack of accomplishments.
He marked the occasion of his first 100 days in office with a list of changes made since his swearing-in on Jan. 13, including 26 new hires, a new screening process for cases and a policy manual that will be adopted by June. 1.
The new DA said that Friday will mark the 100th working day since he took office. He hits that mark a month after his predecessor, Walter Reed, was indicted in federal court on corruption charges.
Montgomery didn’t mention Reed in his three page wrap-up of his first weeks in office, but he made it clear that he wants the public to see his tenure as a stark shift.
“From day one, I have focused on building a team that operates with the highest degree of ethics, professionalism and competence,” he said in a prepared statement. “We are taking the politics out of the District Attorney’s Office and creating a true meritocracy.”
Montgomery said that increasing diversity on the staff was one of his goals. The office has hired four African Americans who he says are in “crucial, professional, decision-making roles” and also has hired three women as section heads.
One of those hires, Francesca Bridges, is head of the new Screening Division that’s designed to evaluate cases earlier in the process and find whether there’s enough evidence to support prosecution.
The sheriff’s offices in St. Tammany and Washington parishes and the Slidell Police Department have agreed to provide electronic access to their police, jail and crime lab reports, he said, and those records will be available to prosecutors as soon as the agencies complete them.
Montgomery, who criticized Walter Reed’s administration for its lack of written policies, said that a new policy manual is undergoing a final round of employee feedback and should be approved by Monday.
Among other things, it forbids assistant district attorneys from representing any civil clients who have any matter pending in the District Attorney’s Office. The policy manual discourages secondary work outside the office and requires assistant district attorneys to get prior approval before taking any outside work.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter at @spagonesadvocat.