Kathleen Rice, 49, is the District Attorney of Nassau County, a diverse suburban community of 1.3 million people located on Long Island, New York. Kathleen’s innovative crime-reduction strategies and progressive reforms have helped the third-term prosecutor prove that law enforcement officials can be both tough and smart on crime.
Dubbed “the state’s toughest DWI prosecutor” by the New York Daily News, Kathleen’s nationally-recognized effort to combat drunk driving has led to statewide changes in DWI law and Long Island’s first DWI-related murder convictions. In 2008, CBS’s 60 Minutes profiled Kathleen’s work to reduce drunk-driving, sparking a renewed national debate on local law enforcement’s role in DWI prevention, prosecution, and education.
In 2007, Kathleen launched an innovative, community-oriented strategy to eliminate one of Long Island’s most prolific drug markets. The strategy paired community involvement with traditional law enforcement methods, progressive social service diversion, job training and education opportunities. Kathleen’s efforts resulted in a 70% reduction in crime and a dramatic decrease in neighborhood violence. The strategy was profiled nationally on ABC News’ PrimeTime and portions of it have since been adopted for use by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2011, Kathleen’s first-of-its-kind investigation into widespread reports of college entrance exam cheating resulted in a series of convictions and a sweeping overhaul of national test-taking security protocols. The reforms Kathleen achieved helped level the playing field for honest kids and showed that modern district attorneys can play a unique role in our communities when other institutions and regulators fail to protect the public interest.
In keeping with a central campaign promise from when she first ran for office, Kathleen has taken down dozens of public officials preying on the public’s trust. Kathleen’s investigations into public corruption have resulted in government reform and led a Long Island newspaper to call her New York’s “Eliot Ness.”
As the county’s chief prosecutor, Kathleen overhauled the training program administered to first-year prosecutors in the office, resulting in higher trial conviction rates, a reduction in plea bargaining, and more jail and prison time for violent criminals.
In addition to cracking down on violent crime, Kathleen has launched several education initiatives that target the causes of crime. Her presentations, aimed at educating communities and youth about the dangers of drunk-driving, heroin and prescription drug abuse, identity theft and Internet crime, have been given in more than 200 settings since she took office.
Kathleen is the president of the state District Attorneys’ Association, where she has lobbied extensively for criminal justice system reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions, strengthening animal cruelty laws, and improving protections for sex workers and human trafficking victims.
Whether it is DWI, drug crime, national reform, government corruption, her focus on consumer protection, or Kathleen’s high-profile fights against Medicaid fraud, gang activity and Internet sexual predators, Kathleen has been unafraid to take on Nassau’s biggest challenges. And she’s won.
Kathleen shocked the political establishment in 2005 with her defeat of a 31-year incumbent, making her the first woman elected DA in Long Island history. Kathleen’s career in public service began as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, New York, where she prosecuted cases of domestic violence and gang activity before eventually putting some of New York City’s most dangerous criminals behind bars as a member of the office’s elite Homicide Bureau. In 1999, Kathleen was appointed an assistant United States attorney, where she went on to an award-winning career as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Philadelphia office.
Kathleen is a graduate of Catholic University and Touro Law School. She resides in Garden City, New York.