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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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Mark Rivera

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Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Gangs

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

The DOJ cuts would seriously impact the state's ability to fight public corruption, organized crime and the explosion of drug and gang crimes. The state's law enforcement agents, who are already getting their pink slips, are members of 55 different law enforcement task forces including the largest national task force of 110 local state and federal officers. The Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) is responsible for seizing 21 million plants since 1983 and confiscating over $72 billion in wholesale value of weed in the last seven years. They are responsible for 72 percent of the marijuana eradication in the nation.

The BNE and BII were also part of the task force representing five northern California counties called the United Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET) that on Oct. 15 announced the arrest of over 100 suspects including members of transnational gangs and the Nuestra Familia prison gang.

These DOJ cuts would also dismantle state efforts to protect consumers, senior citizens, victims of violent crime, and witness protection programs. Some forensic services for rape victims and other crimes would also suffer.

One fourth of California's budget, or $40 billion, is now spent annually on Medi-Cal, which is a huge leaking wound in California's budget. Medi-Cal fraud is one of the areas investigated by the state, along with state welfare, public housing fraud, and governmental corruption. In 2010, there were 165 criminal Medi-Cal filings, 131 convictions, and no acquittals. This resulted in $19.1 million in criminal restitution and $208.1 million in civil recoveries.

These facts are no secret to the governor's office. Remember, he was the attorney general under the prior Gov. Schwarzenegger. Jerry Brown knows how this would hurt California.

Like most other recipients in the California budget in the past 20 years, DOJ has become a political football. It has become administratively top heavy with appointments to posts by Sacramento as political favors. This proposed $71 million in reductions would cut out the working staff but leave many of the political appointments in place.

Depending on the political shifting winds in Sacramento, the BNE has been pulled out of its role fighting drug traffickers and organized crime to serving the "for show" politically correct issues such as Department of Recycling (DOR). DOJ agents who are expert in investigating criminal gangs and organized crime have been reassigned to fight recycling fraud and environmental issues.

The besieged Attorney General Kamala Harris has asked for more control over whom and what is cut out of the DOJ. She announced recently that the DOJ would be reduced to working white-collar crime and computer crime.

DOJ agents have been pulled out of major task forces such as the one in San Diego battling the Tijuana-based Arellano-Felix drug and human trafficking organization. This case could result in the huge seizures of weapons, drugs, and money. Rather than share in the $50-100 million potentially seized by this task force, the DOJ took $2 million from the Department of Recycling to catch can crushers.

Looking at the recent history of frustrating gross misdirection of the California Department of Justice causes one to wonder whether this is a series of foolish mismanagement errors, or whether there's a method to the madness.

Related:

California's 'Realignment' Toward Higher Crime

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