The California Department of Justice’s support of most of the state’s 52 drug task forces will soon come to an end, reports the Eureka (CA) Times-Standard. The California Attorney General’s Office said it will be pulling its agents and fiscal support effective Jan. 1 due to sharp state budget cuts to the office’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.
In an effort to bridge a then-$26 billion state budget gap, the legislature approved a $71 million reduction to the bureau’s $77 million budget next year — a cut that will trigger the loss of an additional $40 million in matching funds. As a result, the Department of Justice is expected to lay off more than 200 agents before Jan. 1. Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey, who chairs the local drug task force board of directors, said the board has pledged to maintain the task force, which has traditionally operated with officers from local agencies acting under the command of a Department of Justice agent. Recognizing the task force’s importance as the only large unit designated to work prolonged and in-depth drug investigations throughout the county, Downey said keeping the unit going is of vital importance.