The Humboldt County Drug Task Force, straight from the pot-cultivation center of California’s famed Emerald Triangle, may fall prey to the state budget ax, resulting from cuts enacted by the Legislature late last month to balance the state’s 2011-2012 budget.
shall we do without them? It’d be a shame for all those cops to have to get real jobs which don’t involve stealing people’s pot crops.
One of those cuts slashed $36 million from the budget of the California Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement, and will likely lead to the elimination of 55 state-led task forces, reports Thadeus Greenson at the Eureka Times-Standard
. The list includes the Humboldt County Drug Task Force.
Under the budget deal, the cut almost doubles to $71 million in the next fiscal year, which could trigger the loss of $40 million in matching federal funds — at least we can hope.
Under the direction of DOJ Commander Dan Harward, the Humboldt County Drug Task Force is made up of officers from the district attorney’s office, the Eureka Police Department, the sheriff’s office, the Arcata Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI. The unit works largely on tips from the public, and claims that it “generally targets high-level offenders.”
“The ability we have, as opposed to other investigative teams in the area, is that we are equipped and capable of handling the long-term investigations,” Harward claimed. “We have the time and resources to put into a case and devote to surveillance so that we we do takedowns, we’re getting multiple pounds as just user quantities,” he said, inadvertently revealing that his salary is a complete waste of taxpayer money.
Nothing definite has been decided regarding the cuts, according to California DOJ Division of Law Enforcement Public Information Officer Michelle Gregory. She said all 55 state-led drug task forces could potentially close, and that no process has been formulated to determine which, if any, of the task forces are to be spared.
The $36 million cut — and next year’s $71 million reduction — come from a yearly budget of just $77 million, according to Harward.
Some efforts are reportedly underway in Sacramento to restore some of the cut funds, but local representatives said they didn’t know about them.
“I’m not aware of any specific efforts to do that,” said Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa). “I think, overall, the Legislature would like to restore all the cuts we made. They’re all very difficult … To put it in perspective, it’s not that law enforcement got targeted. We’re cutting everything. It’s a terrible situation. The cuts are going to be painful for everyone.”
No, Noreen, dear. Not everyone.
In a Wednesday statement, Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) said the DOJ cuts won’t result in the layoffs of any local law enforcement officers, but “may result in a reduction of coordination between the Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement programs.”
Some argue that the elimination of drug task forces — which, in reality, never amounted to much more than a bunch of over-funded, over-armed, sad-sack wanna-be Rambos playing soldier and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in the process — would disproportionately impact rural counties like Humboldt, where local agencies don’t have the resources to fill the void.
“I think the overall safety of the citizens of Humboldt County would be affected (without the task force),” Harward said.
Yeah, Commander Harward, I agree it would definitely affect the citizens’ safety to no longer have a bunch of hyped-up, over-zealous, microcephalic ass clowns helicoptering onto their property and waving automatic weapons in their faces.