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Experts: Calif. DOJ Cuts Will Impact Public Safety

SAN DIEG0 --

Starting December 1, the state of California will put a price tag on public safety by firing 200 agents responsible for solving some of San Diego's worst crimes.

The state's Department of Justice agents have worked with law enforcement in San Diego on such high-profile cases as the Chelsea King and Amber Dubois murders. DOJ agents often have the resources and expertise to solve crimes faster.

On Monday, Chelsea King's father told 10News the DOJ helped lock up his daughter's killer by quickly linking John Gardner's DNA to the crime.

"During the timeframe my daughter was missing until we found her was walking through the seventh layer of hell. I can't imagine a family having to live through what I've lived through in a longer timeframe." Brent King said.

The state DOJ also runs the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force, which is responsible for monitoring and tracking sex offenders.

But now the DOJ is facing a $71 million budget cut, and this Thursday almost 200 special agents will likely receive pink slips and be out of a job on January 1.

Larry Wallace, director of law enforcement for the DOJ, told 10News, "These cuts are unprecedented and we believe they are a threat to public safety."

10News learned that members of San Diego's SAFE Task Force have already been reassigned to investigate gambling and Medicare fraud.

Dennis Brugos, a recently retired lieutenant with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, felt compelled to speak out on behalf of the state investigators.

"They were always just top-rate investigators. They were helping us on a lot of major cases. I mean, they were doing wire taps, interviews, surveillances," said Brugos.

Wallace said the DOJ is still negotiating with the governor's office but he is cautiously optimistic.

 

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