San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has doubled the number of investigators who work part time to protect witnesses in criminal trials, says the San Francisco Chronicle. She acted after the killing of a 22-year-old homicide witness. Terrell Rollins, who was seriously injured in a shooting in September that killed a friend, was shot to death Thursday at an auto repair shop where he and a relative had taken a van to be repaired. “This is tragic,” Harris said. “When a witness who is cooperating with law enforcement to bring about justice is killed in cold blood by what I call assassins, we have to make a statement that we are going to protect people who want to come forward as witnesses.”
The increase means that 14 of the district attorney’s 43 investigators, staff members who help prosecutors build cases by interviewing witnesses and checking other leads, will now spend three-quarters of their regular work hours protecting witnesses. When Harris took office in 2003, the district attorney’s office had four witnesses under the protection of one part-time investigator. Since then, Harris has increased to 20 the number of people in protection. The California Witness Protection Program, which is separate from the similar program for federal witnesses, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, covered the cost of protecting 441 witnesses and 681 of their family members across California.