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Garcetti on Hiring Freeze

March 13, 1994

* I do not want to take prosecutors and investigators out of our workers' compensation fraud division (March 5). But the public's priority--and mine--is public safety, and the district attorney's office must prosecute violent street crimes before anything else. When our number of prosecutors and investigators dropped to a level that threatened our ability to handle crimes such as assault, robbery, rape and murder, I had to move prosecutors and investigators to handle these cases. With "three strikes" now law and an anticipated rise in defendants' demands for jury trials, we will need even more prosecutors and investigators to handle street crimes.

We simply do not have the resources to do it all. Los Angeles will suffer a further travesty when my office has to discontinue prosecution of environmental crimes that threaten the health of thousands of citizens. I am also faced with having to close down our consumer fraud and occupational safety divisions and stop prosecuting cases of major frauds, local city ordinances and auto insurance frauds, all of which harm thousands of victims and threaten business.

Last year our vigorous workers' compensation fraud prosecutions and investigations, particularly of doctors and lawyers, had a significant impact on reducing this crime. Workers' compensation fraud is indeed a threat to California's economic health, causing the state to lose billions of dollars, as your March 1 story stated.

The answer is not to send these cases to the attorney general's office. It would take years to duplicate the knowledge and experience our lawyers and investigators have developed in workers' compensation fraud.

We hope that the Board of Supervisors will finally understand the negative impact the hiring freeze is having on everyone in Los Angeles. The district attorney's office must be allowed to continue to clamp down on workers' compensation fraud. We must have the resources to prosecute all the crime in our county, violent and nonviolent.

GIL GARCETTI

L.A. County District Attorney

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