California Attorney General Issues Statement on Loss of California Law Enforcement Capabilities

I congratulate Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature for their success in passing California’s budget bill. However, I join California law enforcement leaders in expressing serious concerns over the passage yesterday of $71 million in cuts to the Division of Law Enforcement budget. These budget cuts handcuff the state Department of Justice’s ability to fight gang violence and disrupt the flow of drugs, guns and human beings across our border.

The cuts will likely eliminate 55 state-led task forces that coordinate the response to our growing gang problem. The Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence and Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement will also likely be eliminated, as will the investigative capacities of the newly-formed Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. All told, several hundred agents, investigators, and other law enforcement positions will be lost, as will the ability to prosecute cases like these:

- In the Central Valley, a DOJ-led task force recently helped arrest 101 gang leaders and members who were terrorizing two counties.
– In the Bay Area, agents arrested another 30 gang members – and seized 100 plus pounds of methamphetamine destined for our streets.
– In San Diego, they arrested three suspects sent from Mexico on a murder-for-hire contract targeting an entire family.
– In Los Angeles, two task forces slated for elimination – LA IMPACT and LA CLEAR – have played a vital role in the policing of gangs.
– Throughout the state, the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force has opened investigations into criminal and consumer fraud. These investigations range from foreclosure scams affecting large numbers of victims to multi-million dollar corporate fraud.

Public safety is a basic right of all people and a core function of our government. For that reason, I call on Governor Brown and the Legislature to immediately restore adequate funding to California law enforcement.

The following organizations and individuals have joined me in expressing their grave concerns ( http://oag.ca.gov/news/press_release?id=2525%29:

California Police Chiefs Association
California District Attorneys Association
California Narcotic Officers’ Association
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis
Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck
East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald L. Davis
Arvin Police Chief Tommy W. Tunson

Law enforcement leaders from across the state of California today criticized the deep cuts to the Department of Justice’s law enforcement budget that specifically targeted anti-gang and anti-drug programs.

The general fund reduction proposals would reduce by $71 million the budget of the Division of Law Enforcement. This could lead to the loss of several hundred special agents and other personnel, the dissolution of 55 statewide task forces – many of which coordinate responses to transnational gang and drug crime – and the loss of investigators on the state’s new Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. As a result, two entire law enforcement bureaus could be shut down, the Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence (BII) and the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE).

California Narcotic Officers’ Association President James C. Hodges:
“Yesterday’s budget agreement contained a bad surprise – the budget decimated the General Fund resources available to Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office for law enforcement purposes. The impact of these cuts will be the shutting down of all BNE task forces, as well as their offices. Each of you may recall that these same cuts were proposed in 2009 during the Schwarzenegger administration. Fortunately, the Legislature wisely rejected those proposed cuts. The reasons for rejecting those cuts in 2009 are as valid today as they were in 2009. In fact, they have become accentuated over the past two years. It is fact that the Mexican drug cartels have dramatically increased their profile in California. Additionally, the significant challenges local law enforcement will face in 2011 with public safety realignment is further reason to restore the BNE task forces. The fact is that the loss of BNE task forces will force local law enforcement – who will tell you frankly that they lack the expertise to deal with these sophisticated, multi-national criminal enterprises – to put scarce resources to fill the void left by the loss of BNE task forces. This is a diversion of local law enforcement resources that will unacceptably undermine their efforts to make public safety realignment work.”

Irvine Police Chief and California Police Chiefs Association President Dave Maggard:
“There were strong imperatives that existed in 2009 and still exist today for the restoration of the BNE (Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement) and still exist today for restoration of the BNE task forces: the Mexican drug cartels are steadily moving their operations into the California; drug cartel violence is already spilling over into the United States; the Sinaloa Cartel is becoming firmly entrenched in California; FBI sources with whom we have spoken believe that a majority of the 200 reported abductions in California are attributable to Mexican drug cartels enforcing their business arrangements; and prosecutors are noting a disturbing diversification of the cartels where they are also engaged in human sex trafficking, as well as their more “traditional” methamphetamine trafficking.Local law enforcement relies on the ability of the BNE task force to combat the increasingly sophisticated crime families involved in drug trafficking and in human trafficking.”

California District Attorneys Association President Gregory D. Totten:
“If this cut is allowed to stand, numerous entities within DOJ will be devastated. Though funded by the Restitution Fund, the Witness Relocation and Protection Program is staffed by DOJ personnel. A reduction in services within this program jeopardizes the ability of law enforcement to protect and relocate vital witnesses. Of additional concern is the potential negative impact on forensic services provided by DOJ. State forensic labs assist counties across the state with blood-alcohol and drug testing that is crucial to all types of prosecutions. This cut portends access to justice issues inasmuch as the availability of these services will become less uniform, specifically in counties that do not have local labs.”

Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero:
“As a district attorney in a county bordering Mexico, I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to cut $71 million from the Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement’s budget. Such a move would have a major negative impact on public safety in my county, in the state and across the entire nation.”

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis:
“The purpose of this letter is to share my concern with the proposed cuts to the California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE). As the elected District Attorney of San Diego County, my office investigates and prosecutes crime along California’s border on a daily basis. It is through collaboration with the Division of Law Enforcement that we are able to see results from our efforts to stem the tide of violent crime crossing into California.The work of the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Bureau of Intelligence and Investigations is a key piece to a statewide strategy to prevent gang crime.I understand the challenges in balancing the state’s budget, but urge you to keep in mind that most local law enforcement agencies are taking severe staffing reductions, especially the smaller agencies, and we will need the assistance of DLE more than ever.”

East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald L. Davis:
“The purpose of this letter is to share my concern with the proposed cuts to the California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE). On June 5, 2011, two young men fired over a dozen bullets into a vehicle containing an innocent family of four leaving a baby shower in East Palo Alto. The heinous nature of this shooting shocked the entire Bay Area and underscores the real and serious danger gangs pose to our communities. Our response to this tragedy must extend beyond the arrest of the two killers: it must include holding the Nortenos and Surenos accountable as well. In order to do this, I need the assistance of DLE; otherwise, we are battling these gangs with 39 officers.”

In a statement released last night, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said:
“The proposed $71 million cut will cripple California’s statewide anti-gang and drug trafficking operations. Our Division of Law Enforcement leads 50 task forces across the state that target criminal gangs and drug trafficking organizations. Earlier this month, one of these task forces took down 101 leaders and members of two transnational gangs terrorizing California’s Central Valley. Last month, we announced the seizure of over 100 lbs of methamphetamine and the arrests of more than 30 gang members in the Bay Area. These cuts will eliminate many, if not all, of these task forces and jeopardize many ongoing investigations.”

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