Proposed Budget Delivers Blow to Law Enforcement and Mortgage Fraud Efforts

By Lynda Gledhill
Press Secretary for Attorney General Kamala D. Harris

Law enforcement, public safety and key anti-gang operations are all at risk under the budget agreed to by Legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown.

The cut of $71 million will wipe out the state's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence and eliminate more than 55 statewide law enforcement task forces.  These agents and task forces are on the frontlines of the state's struggle against sophisticated gangs and drug trafficking organizations.  The loss of these task forces, combined with the elimination of DOJ's role in the state witness protection program, will dramatically undermine recent gains made against gangs in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and the Central Valley.

Just weeks ago, the Department of Justice and local law enforcement partners arrested 101 gang leaders and members in the Central Valley.  They were members of a notorious prison-based gang with ties to foreign drug cartels, and this operation has crippled their grip on the drug trade flowing through the central part of the state.  The month before, we took down more than 30 members of a transnational gang operating in the Bay Area, seizing over 100 pounds of methamphetamine.

These are operations of statewide significance, which is why the California Police Chiefs Association is pleading for these task forces to be saved.  

But it's not only gang enforcement that's losing out.  This proposed cut will eliminate much of the California Mortgage Fraud Strike Force that our office recently launched.  The cut would eliminate nearly every one of the Strike Force's investigators, cutting off pending investigations and potential cases designed to protect homeowners and hold bad actors in the mortgage industry accountable.  

The last Attorney General fought against these very same cuts.  It was the right decision then and has even more urgency now, as drug cartel and transnational gang activity in California is rising and our homeowners urgently need protection from predators in the mortgage market.  

The cuts should be undone and, at minimum, be unallocated so that the Department of Justice can make decisions on where to cut and how best protect the programs most critical to Californians.