Gang and Drug Task Forces Face State Layoffs
California Department of Justice announced layoffs for gang and drug-fighting task forces across the state. The department, under direction from Governor Jerry Brown, is cutting more than 200 special agents.
"Naturally I'm feeling insecure, thinking that they are going to back off gang task force," said Mary Elisha, who serves on a Rancho Mirage neighborhood watch.
Special agents are part of task forces ran by the state, which fight everything from illegal gambling to drug cartels.
The teams tend to keep a low profile, but now they are speaking out against Governor Brown's decision to slash task force funding.
"This is going to have a direct and immediate impact on public safety," said task force supervisor Anthony Valente.
Just this year special agents targeted the Vagos motorcycle gang, arresting a dozen people. And, a few weeks ago they helped out during that day-long standoff in Coachella.
The DOJ task forces will be reduced from 52 to 18, and that means the 13 officers who make up the Coachella Valley violent crime and gang task force now could face being laid off.
But with news that the state could be facing an 8 billion dollar deficit, the Governor has been forced to make cuts somewhere.
"I know we are facing a budget crisis, but we can't afford to lay off more agents. It's not going to do any one any good," said Valente.
If things go as the governor wants it, about half of the agents statewide could get cut. Police captains in the valley are saying this move isn't really about need. They say it's all about the money.
-Jessica Flores KMIR6 News