Do prosecutors use their own investigators?

In other words do they have their own cops rather than using the normal ones? TV, my educator in these matters (!), is telling me different stories here. On the old Law & Order series the investigating was done by the cops, who then handed the evidence to the prosecutors. But in Chicago Justice the prosecutors use their own cops. Which is the reality? Is this reflective of a difference between NY and Chicago or merely a case of giving a couple more actors regular jobs on the CJ series?

In real life, the NY district attorney’s offices have their own investigators ,too (and I believe there are also some NYPD officers assigned to the DA’s office). There was even an L&O series, Trial by Jury that had DA investigators in the cast. Rather than providing a couple of extra jobs to Chicago Justice, I think it’s a matter of limiting the cast on L&O in the same way that the cops on that show only dealt with one ADA, one person in the MEs office, etc.

No need to reach for the series’s most obscure spinoff—the original Law & Order series is thought by many to portray the DA’s squad. I don’t think the show ever came out and said this explicitly, but it’s the only theory that explains why the detectives work only on homicides and other high-profile cases, and why the ADA is involved at a very early stage in every single one of their cases (often before an arrest is even made).

Interesting, I just asked my husband this question last week. My understanding is that they do, but I was confused because it seems like the two should be separate in my mind. Then again, I guess that frees up the police to investigate new crimes being committed while those working with the prosecutor’s are investigating and building a case against those already charged.

I don’t get it. If prosecutors have their own investigators, then what are the regular cops for?

Related aside:

In many jurisdictions the public defender’s office has a dedicated staff of investigators. Who aren’t LEOs, but work for the public defender, digging out evidence and most of all locating witnesses and gathering their inputs with an eye to their eventual testimony.

Extra aside: It can be confusing that PD stands for both “Police Department” and for “Public Defender”. You don’t want to get confused and bare your soul to the wrong PD.

Regular cops investigate prior to arrest . After the arrest , sometimes additional investigation is needed - for example , the defendant is claiming an alibi that was never mentioned before.
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The regular cops are there to investigate crimes and find a suspect. After there’s an indictment, if it’s a sufficiently serious crime, the prosecutor may use their own investigators for subsequent investigation prior to trial: interviewing witnesses in greater detail, establishing timelines, talking to the forensics lab people, digging deeper into potential accomplices, talking to jailhouse snitches, pulling financial and/or communication records, and generally doing everything necessary to build a solid case that can win at trial. Or, in some cases, finding evidence that they actually have the wrong guy and dropping charges.

While all this is going on, the regular cops have already moved on to other cases.

I used to wonder that but apparently it’s not the case. According to the Law & Order wiki the cops were New York City Homicide Unit detectives, although they often assisted the DA’s office in non-homicide cases. That makes sense as their office is clearly in the police department rather than that of the DA.

Sitting in a DA’s office right now, and our investigator’s office just across the main office area.

Correct, the case should be complete by the time it gets to us. However, sometimes after the complete case file arrives, additional investigation needs to be done, like looking up criminal histories or talking to acquaintances. Our investigator also does a lot of our “grunt work” like coordinating witnesses, serving subpoenas, and things like that. He’s also a fingerprint expert, which makes it simpler to prove up prior convictions in court.

edit to add: we don’t really want our investigator to do anything the cops should do. Then, he’d become a witness on the case, and we’d have to find someone else to do the DA investigator stuff.

Law and Order (original) got a lot of things right and a lot wrong. What it got right was often NYC specific and not common practice in all departments. Most departments across the country are not big city departments.

I’ll share how things are done in my department and county and there probably is a similar set up in suburban departments throughout the country. The municipal department has detectives. Those detectives follow up on initial investigations for most mundane crimes. Thefts, fraud, burglary, assaults, drugs. Some suburban departments are too small to have much of a dectective bureau. One or two guys handle everything. My department is big enough to have (not counting supervisors) two in SVU, five in Gemeral, and three in Vice.

The county prosecutor’s office has to support all the towns in the county. They have quite a few detectives. What has been mentioned before would fall under the trial team. A county detective is assigned to a prosecutor and as their case comes up for trial he makes sure the evidence is all accounted for, witnesses are located, late breaking information is followed up on, basically all of the leg work the prosecutor needs.

That is only one department that the prosecutors office has. They have a major crimes unit that comes out and works all homicides and other serious crimes within the county. As a SVU detective I had to make sure all sex crimes were reported to the county sex crimes unit. I often worked side by side with a detective from the county. The prosecutors office also runs the county drug task force using county and municipal detectives. Each town can handle there own evidence and forensic collection but the prosecutors office has more know how and a lot more equipment so they come out to do crime scene work on serious crimes. The smaller departments with few officers call on the county for a lot more like serious accident reconstruction and laser grid measurements of fatal accident scenes. I’m sure I’m forgetting something but basically the prosecutor’s office and their detectives take the lead on most serious investigations and work with the local departments and also help the towns who have personnel problems.