SHERIDAN — Dianna Bennett ran for Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney last fall to improve the efficiency of the county office and its communication with the other departments. Bennett has already implemented some changes to help with efficiency and said communication with other departments is a work in progress.
Bennett started working for the Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2000. There were three attorneys and three support staff at the time. Over the years, more deputy attorneys were added bringing the total number to six full-time attorneys. Support staff members were cut to two full-time employees.
Adding support staff was something Bennett wanted to make happen but did not have the power to do nor the budget allow it.
To make the county office more efficient, Bennett said she decided not to hire an attorney to replace her when she was elected into the position; instead she made the decision to add a support staff position to the office.
There are now five attorneys and three full-time support staff, with another position to be hired later.
Bennett said she added the other support staff position to allow the attorneys to spend more time researching cases and being in the courtroom.
An office manager was selected from support staff to help with organization and scheduling. One of that person’s duties is to keep track of the cases each attorney has and assign them new cases when they come in.
The officer manager helps take care of the day-to-day tasks allowing Bennett to be assigned to cases, Bennett said.
In addition, support staff help keep the flow of information going from the prosecuting attorney’s office to the court clerk’s office and the defense attorney’s office. Information is shared between the offices more quickly, allowing more time for defense attorneys to review the case, Bennett said.
Bennett said prosecuting attorneys work a lot with law enforcement officials to gather information for cases. This requires effective communication from both ends, something she wants to continue to improve.
Communications can always be improved on, but the SPD has always had a good relationship with the prosecuting office, Sheridan Police Department’s Lt. Travis Koltiska said.
Bennett said that it has been important for law enforcement officers and attorneys to maintain communication because it leads to accurate information being presented in court and having the correct charges presented.
Bennett said to help improve communication with law enforcement, she wants to set up monthly meetings with the administrative positions in all of the law enforcement groups in Sheridan County.
Her goal is that together they can address common issues they see and work to keep the Sheridan area safe.
Bennett has been with the county attorney’s office for 19 years.
With the changes she has already implemented, Bennett said the prosecuting attorneys can be more efficient in their jobs and in communicating with other departments.