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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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California's Budget Fix: Cut Gang and Drug Fighters

State lawmakers are releasing prisoners and plan $71 million in cuts to drug and gang fighters.

November 07, 2011  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

Photo: rtilden.
Photo: rtilden.

California faces some of the toughest challenges in its history. The state is behind only Washington D.C. and New York, as a top target for terrorists. California ranks among the highest among states in unemployment and problems involving housing, drugs and gangs. The state is watching the decline of once-great institutions and infrastructure such as bridges, dams, highways, hospitals and the electric grid. The state budget is in constant crisis.

The solution from the governor and state legislature to this crisis involves releasing nearly 40,000 state prisoners while, at the same time, cutting $71 million from the state's drug and gang fighting organizations such as the state Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (BNE) and Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence (BII).

In past articles, I've been critical when city and county law enforcement agencies such as my own Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reduce or do away with its intelligence units. This forces cities and counties to rely heavily on state and federal intelligence sharing. Now, the state plans to gut the BII. This reduces the intelligence finding and sharing sources to federal government agencies. I've worked with these agencies in my 33 years in law enforcement, and the federal agencies seem to be the worst at gathering local intelligence and especially with sharing it.

This is the second stint for Gov. Jerry Brown at the California helm. He also served two terms as "Governor Moonbeam" from 1975 to '83. Back then, he appointed Rose Bird to the California Supreme Court. At the time, I objected to her strong anti-death penalty opinions and her numerous wacky court decisions. In 1986, she became the first Supreme Court judge thrown off the bench by voter recall. Two other California Supreme Court judges also fell.

As the son of former Gov. Edmund "Pat" Brown, Gov. Jerry Brown graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a law degree from Yale in 1964. He's an old friend of liberals such as "Hanoi" Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Between his current governorship and his last one, he ran for President in 1976 and 1980, served as mayor of Oakland from 1999 to 2007, and served as state attorney general from 2007 until earlier this year.

Before his recent election as governor, he re-cast himself as a born-again "law and order man." He even made an appearance on Michael Savage's controversial conservative radio show, The Savage Nation. Jerry Brown is really the same old politician.

To be fair, Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted the same $71 million in cuts for the California Department of Justice during his administration. Those cuts were not approved. Some may surmise that Jerry Brown's decision to make these cuts of the DOJ's budget are retaliation for his embarrassment during the election, when someone leaked his mistakenly taped conversation in which a voice could be heard calling his opponent, Meg Whitman, a "political whore." Insiders speculated that it was his wife's voice, but Brown fixed his anger on Alan Barcelona, the president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). The group represents 7,000 members in 180 different state jobs in the Department of Justice.

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