United States: A Candid Conversation with PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, part 2

Yesterday I posted  part 1 of a 4 part series of a candid conversation that I had with Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. This is part 2 of 4 of my conversation with Kathleen Kane.

What, if any, changes have you implemented in the AG's office since you took office in January 2013?

We have made a lot of changes.  I believe that we have turned the ship around by way of personnel.  We took the Internal Affairs Office and made it into the Office of Professional Responsibility because we want very clear, defined guidelines and a high code of conduct for all who work here.  And in response to that and in response to me going out and meeting as many people as I can and making sure that they are motivated and inspired to do their jobs, it makes them better people.  And it makes them work harder and it makes them perform better and function better and more efficiently.

I've worked in law enforcement for a long time and if you get police officers or you get lawyers who don't feel appreciated and who forget why we do what we do, they're not as productive and they don't serve the public.  I remind everyone here why we do what we do.  We don't do it for the money; we don't do it for the glory.  As you can see we get batted around a lot but we do it because we love the law; because we believe in justice and because we have a real sense of service.

We've taken the child predator section that was not a standalone section and we've made it a standalone section.  We took a piece of this office that was a storage room and that some of the past AGs used to film public service announcements and we made it into a child predator section.  We have all new equipment.  We have better software.  We have better trained agents where they may have had one or two agents, we have 12.  We have three or four dedicated deputy attorney generals.  We have a chief of the unit now.  They made 19 arrests a year prior to me taking office.  Since I have taken office, we are over 160 arrests.  So I believe that children are safer in this Commonwealth.

We also started the first ever mobile street crimes unit.  That's an incredible crime fighting tool.  I was in office maybe two months before I had to go and give my budget address and normally you would just go in and say, okay, please just give me the money and not stir the pot.  Well we didn't do that.  We went in and asked for $12 million.  And here's what we need and I need $3 million for a mobile crimes unit; here's the concept; here's why it's going to work; here's how it make Pennsylvania safer.  I will prove it to you.  Give me the money; I'll get it up and running and I'll prove it to you that it's an effective tool.  And we did all that.  So that's an effective tool that has made an incredible difference on the lives of Pennsylvanians.   It was first deployed in Hazleton.  It made an incredible difference on the quality of life for the people there.  It is now in its second deployment and already it is going really well.  So it's a new crime fighting tool.  It's been picked up by National Geographic and in the New York Times.  We were on Drugs, Inc. for an episode or two.  And we have done a few specials where people are saying that this a great crime fighting tool.

We brought in a new chief and we are expanding, not at scope because we are bound by the law, but we are expanding what we do.  We deal with individual consumers' problems.  But we also deal with problems on a much more wider scale.  We work with NAAGS, the National Association of Attorneys General and we work with them to make sure that we are really protecting consumers and that we are making it that crime doesn't pay in Pennsylvania.

And charities.  We  made national reforms on the Hershey Trust.  It's the largest children's charity in The United States.  It's worth on any given day $10 to $12 billion.  And we came in, this investigation was sitting in here for years.  We went through the whole thing and then ... while no one was arrested because there was no basis for criminal charges, we made national changes and things that will affect charities all over the Country for the better.  We have the lottery, we had voter id, we had DOMA, we have dealt with constitutional issues I think that Pennsylvania hasn't seen in a very long time and I think that we dealt with them according to the Constitution.  Not according to politics; not according to what newspapers want; we dealt with the Constitution and I think that's refreshing.

Your office published 2013 Year In Review which is a 51-page report on the accomplishments of your office.  Is there anything in particular that stands out to you regarding 2013? 

How incredible busy we were.  How we had such high profile significant cases for Pennsylvania in one year.

We started out with closing the Florida loophole, for gun permits, that made Pennsylvania safer.  For years politicians denied that the loophole even existed.  We came into office and within a couple of weeks we closed that loophole that made it safer for Pennsylvanians.  We didn't take anyone's guns away.  We just made every Pennsylvanian follow Pennsylvania law; not Florida law and that in turn makes Pennsylvania safer.  And then we had the issue with the Pennsylvania lottery being privatized.  We followed the Constitution and the Constitution said that it had to go to the General Assembly; that nobody can outsource the lottery without the approval of the General Assembly.  And then we have the Hershey situation and the Hershey reforms.  We had voter id, we had DOMA, we had the PIAA where we had to go in to defend the ERA and in defending that, we had to say, now we have to allow boys to play on girls' teams because if you take that away, you're eroding the ERA and then it, it dissolves what it was meant to do which was to make sure that there is equality for girls in sports.  We had the mobile street crimes unit, we had the expansion of the Child Predator Unit.  It was just an incredible year.  We just made such great strides and there was so much happening.  It was almost impossible to fit in 51 pages to be honest with you.

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