ALSO SEE: Related story in Thursday's Monterey County Herald (subscription required).
CORRECTION: Our original story incorrectly stated that the Governor's Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy has four employees and a $600,000 annual budget. In fact, it has twice as much: eight employees and a $1.2 million annual budget. The original figures are the state's potential savings if this office is eliminated halfway through the upcoming fiscal year, as the governor's May Revise proposes. We regret the error.
It's an office with four employees and a $600,000 annual budget. But local law enforcement agencies sing its praises for its work with anti-gang programs. Lieutenant Bill Champion is with the Sacramento Police Department:
Champion: "They focused on evidence-based programs and they actually required technical assistance to each of those agencies that were funded to make sure we were following the guidelines of these evidence-based programs."
The most successful anti-gang program may be one called Ceasefire. Champion says police round up gang members, offer them job training, and scare the heck out of them to get them to accept.
Champion: "If you don't take these services and you don't allow us to help you, we will focus all of our law enforcement efforts to make sure you're not a safety issue to society."
As a candidate for governor, then-Attorney General Brown oversaw crackdowns on gangs. Last summer, he told the Monterey County Herald he also supported prevention efforts. As for the future of the Governor's Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy?
Brown: "Sure, it'll function! A lot of people want to turn their lives around and you've got to give them an incentive. So I'm very positive on that. But you also need - you need the carrot and the stick."
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup says the governor was referring to the actual functions of the office, not the office itself. He says those functions will continue under the California Emergency Management Agency. Kelly McMillin is deputy police chief of the gang-ravaged city of Salinas. He says CalEMA is pretty good at managing grants, but…
McMillin: "I don't know what their capacity is for formulating comprehensive policy around youth violence. That's my fear with the loss of the office."