The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is the latest law enforcement agency to warn that the public safety could be at risk when 261 state Department of Justice agents are laid off because of budget cuts expected on Dec. 1.
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"Will cutting the Department of Justice impact your department?" asked 10News I-Team reporter Mitch Blacher.
"I think it will impact law enforcement all over the state," said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.
The DOJ works well with most law enforcement agencies in California because they let other agencies get the glory. They stay in the background, and it is a plus for getting everyone to cooperate.
The California Department of Justice, run by the state Attorney General's Office, helped chase one of the biggest leads in the John Gardner case.
The I-Team learned the DOJ helped analyze DNA evidence in the Gardner case -- all while San Diegans were fearful over the unsolved murder of Chelsea King and the fact that Gardner was still at large.
"Through DOJ contacts they had the state lab work through the weekend, overnight, to identify who that DNA belonged to, which led to the apprehension of John Gardner over a matter of a couple days," said Gore.
"Would you have caught John Gardner without the Department of Justice?" asked Blacher.
"I think we would have caught John Gardner. Would it have been as fast? Probably not," Gore said.
"A few days of John Gardner out and free is a big difference," said Blacher.
"Absolutely. In a few days, he could have fled the area. We don't know, so it's kind of second-guessing the subject. They played a valuable part in that investigation," said Gore.
The Department of Justice also plays a key role in San Diego's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Team.
"This is the team that tracks all the sex offenders in San Diego County," said Gore.
It's not just the sheriff's department that is expressing concerns about the Department of Justice's layoffs. Police agencies both big and small in the region all use the DOJ.
"It's a team effort. If we lose them, it's going to be a hole in our lineup," said Gore.
Gov. Jerry Brown's finance office told 10News layoffs to the DOJ are regrettable but the cuts have to come from somewhere.
The state attorney general said ongoing investigations will be jeopardized.
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