BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) – Benton County will expand its court staff to meet the increase of criminal cases seen over the years.
Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith is looking to add more people to his team, including another Deputy Prosecuting Attorney – bringing the total number of prosecutors to 21.
Smith says it’s in response to the major growth the county has seen in criminal cases.
In 2014 – about 1,900 felony cases were open – in 2019 about 3,200 cases were opened.
Smith says it’s common to see an increase in crime with the increase of people moving to the area. He says most of the cases they’ve received has to do with substance abuse involving opioids and other drugs.
“Drug crimes and crimes associated with drugs really drive the numbers,” Smith said. “There has been an increase across the board but the increase in drug crimes has been exponential.”
Smith says victims of crimes will also see an increase in resources. He’s looking to hire a fifth victim advocate soon.
Smith predicts as long as the pace of growth continues – every legislative session could be adding another prosecutor.