SAN DIEGO–San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, who rose through the ranks from young prosecutor to the county’s top law enforcement official over her 29-year career with the District Attorney’s Office, Monday vowed to protect children and families, and provide justice for the voiceless and most vulnerable during her official swearing in ceremony in the County Board of Supervisors chambers.
In front of an audience of county officials, dignitaries and family members, DA Stephan took the oath of office, administered by Presiding Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh.
I’m so honored to serve as this county’s District Attorney,” DA Stephan said. “We are going to pursue equal and fair justice. We’re going to push back the bullies and we’re going to stand up for people who are vulnerable. If you touch our kids we’re coming after you, if you threaten our schools, you’ll be held accountable, and if you hurt our seniors, you will face justice.”
DA Stephan said her office’s focus on prosecution will be balanced with programs that recognize and address the root causes of crime.
“If you’re a young person who’s committed non-violent crimes, if you’re a human being who has frailties, vulnerabilities, mental health issues, addictions, we are going to employ a system of fair justice but also one that’s not a one-size-fits-all,” she said. “One that looks at the underlying issues and gives second chances.”
Stephan identified several areas she plans to focus on during her term, including mental health, human trafficking, elder abuse and juvenile justice. Noting the nexus between criminal justice and homelessness, mental health and substance abuse, Stephan said she is creating a new position in her office to work with stakeholders in the community address the problem.
“We have to be able to balance the compassionate treatment of people with mental health issues while protecting the rights of victims of crime,” Stephan said.
Recognized as a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, Stephan vowed to continue working to prevent and prosecute the sexual exploitation of young people in the county.
In a push for transparency and openness, Stephan said she would shine a light on the rare cases when law enforcement fails to stand up to the level of trust the public deserves.
“Without truth, you can’t build trust with the community,” she said.
DA Stephan leads an office of more than 1,000 employees who protect public safety, pursue justice and support victims across San Diego County. The District Attorney’s term is four years.