Danny Porter became the District Attorney in Gwinnett County in 1992. And for ten years prior to that he was an Assistant DA for Gwinnett. In local political years that would be about one hundred years. Yet he pulls it off without playing politics like so many others do. All the other elected officials know him and speak highly of him, but he isn’t a part of the “scene” at all.
A quick search of the internet using Google, or Bing and you will see decades of his work. You will also see people that hate him. Hate is a strong word, but I believe I’m using it correctly here. Stories of abuse of power, intimidation, and unconstitutional acts are everywhere. Proving that anyone that wants a voice can have one.
I can’t speak to the complaints online about Mr Porter. I can speak to the job he has done. I believe I can speak to what he has given up to do the job he has done for so many years. Or at least some of it. I cannot claim I know what it is like to do what he does. I can only write about the small part that is clear to me.
The job. To investigate and prosecute. Sounds simple enough. But the balancing act of keeping the citizens of Gwinnett safe, forging working relationships and understanding with judges, and taking heat from anyone that doesn’t agree with a decision. Add to this the pressure that comes from threats made by individuals, gangs, and organized crime types and you have a reason for drinking every night. I often wonder what living with death threats like this would do to a normal human being. He has to get them. I remember when he rounded up a bunch of MS 13 members, arrested, and prosecuted them. The gang made many threats. And in other cities and counties across America they made good on them.
After thinking about the threats, I’ll move on to the politics of the job. Imagine with all the corruption cases that have plagued Gwinnett County how Mr Porter’s life was. These were people that in some cases were his friends, or at least people he met at gatherings over many years. How hard was that? “But Danny, I thought we were friends”. I can’t imagine being in the position to flip a switch any moment on someone I cared about. But, because that’s his job, he does it. Not always perfect, but he gets it done. In most cases better than anyone else could. He makes examples out of some to let it be know that Gwinnett is not a place for career criminals.
Finally, I can look at Gwinnett County and see a prosperous county that experienced massive growth over decades, sustained by urban flight, great climate, a great job market, and wonderful schools. A great place to raise a family. Most counties, cities, and areas completely fail when all this hits them. Crime soars, corruption runs rampant, and the are becomes like some of Gwinnett’s neighbors. Then everything starts reversing. People leave, schools get underfunded, and you have what others have now, a huge mess. Danny Porter and his leadership, and leaders like him are the reason Gwinnett County is still the place people want to live, work, and raise a family.
I have to admit that I was one of those people that spoke ill of Mr Porter. I have come to see the heroic and mostly thankless side to the position he has filled successfully for so long. Nothing comes easy in a position like his. Enemies will be many, and joys of the job few. I guess I’d have to say he has earned my respect. It took longer than it should have to realize this. I still disagree with his actions many times. But I do not have all the facts, the back story, or the pressure, hovering over me like he does. None of us do. I’m just thankful for what he’s done and continues to do for Gwinnett County.
Like I said. This is the first of four (for now) profiles on Gwinnett’s leaders I’m doing. Gwinnett County has had it’s share of bad press. But at the end of the day, the leaders we elect and support are the reason we are still strong. I just thought it was time to look at the positive. We have so many fantastic, strong leaders. Let’s stop complaining and get behind them.
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