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People to watch in 2014 Tori Verber-Salazar hopes to make San Joaquin County ‘miserable’ for criminals

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Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 12:00 am

Without any opponents in the coming election, just months away, Tori Verber-Salazar is the frontrunner to become San Joaquin County’s next district attorney, making her someone to watch in 2014.

The next district attorney will immediately face a number of challenges that have plagued the county in recent years. Property crimes have spiked in nearly all cities, including Lodi. Realignment and a crowded jail are forcing authorities to release county inmates earlier than they otherwise would, and thousands of convicted criminals will soon be released from California’s state prisons.

And the district attorney’s office is trying to tackle these issues on a tight budget and shortened staff.

But Verber-Salazar says tough times require innovative approaches, which she hopes to bring to the position if she is elected in November.

“When you lose all your money, it forces you to rethink the way you do business,” said Verber-Salazar, 47, a Woodbridge resident. “You have to do more with less.”

Under Verber-Salazar, the district attorney’s office would be more data driven in an effort to stop crimes before they happen, she said. She hopes to work with law enforcement agencies to identify crime trends, allowing the county to better focus its limited resources.

She would also help businesses better position their security cameras, which would allow authorities to identify criminals more easily.

She hopes to educate the community, and give them tools to help them avoid becoming the victims of a crime.

“We want to make it miserable for criminals to do business here,” she said.

Verber-Salazar joined the district attorney’s office in 1987 as a summer intern, and continued her employment as a law clerk while attending Patino School of Law in Sacramento.

She joined the prosecution team in 2001, and has spent the last seven years prosecuting gang homicides.

“I’ve been with the office for a long time and seen it from different perspectives,” she said. “I felt based on my training and involvement in the community and work that it was time to take that step and run for office.”

While the list of challenges facing the district attorney is long, Verber-Salazar said certain dilemmas, like the budget, are getting better. She added that the county’s tribulations have galvanized residents.

“When we look at crime, it really mobilized people,” she said. “The community said, ‘We’re not giving up our town or county. We’re going to take it back.’ It takes everyone working toward a common goal.”

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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