Mike Hestrin

Hestrin says he needs additional funds to avoid layoffs. But supervisors say he’s being unreasonable

By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published: July 28, 2016 – Updated: 9:44 p.m.

  • Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin has warned he would need $12.25 million in additional funding to avoid layoffs.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin’s budget battle with the Board of Supervisors already has led to some public-safety service cuts, he acknowledged Thursday, July 28.

The DA’s office has suspended all paid off-duty and nighttime search warrant reviews and will no longer pay overtime for attorneys to go out to homicides and officer-involved shootings, Hestrin announced.

County supervisors called the moves political posturing.

Hestrin’s announcement comes the same week as a Board of Supervisors meeting that highlighted strained relations between the DA and the five-member board. All are elected officials.

Hestrin warned he would need $12.25 million in additional funding to avoid layoffs. Supervisors, who control county funding to Hestrin’s office, questioned whether layoffs were necessary and critiqued Hestrin’s management skills.

In a Thursday email, Chief Assistant District Attorney John Aki said: “Just to maintain current staffing needs and public safety services, the DA’s Office needs an additional $12.25 million.

“This puts the DA’s office in the unfortunate position of having to immediately suspend some important public safety services to our law enforcement partners and the courts in order to contain overtime costs that will help to stave off layoffs.”

After-hour reviews of search warrant requests aren’t legally required, although doing so lowers the prospect for future court challenges, Aki said. As for DA visits to scenes of homicides and officer-involved shootings, “members of our existing executive and line-level management team are now volunteering to assume these additional work responsibilities,” he said.

“We are constantly monitoring the budget, and should our fiscal situation change or permit, we will immediately restore those prosecution services cut,” Aki said.

Supervisors criticized Hestrin’s moves in a press release issued Thursday. They urged Hestrin, who in his first term, to work with them to find efficiencies “rather than take steps that hurt the community.”

“(Hestrin) chose to immediately reduce small, yet essential, services rather than thoughtfully look for efficiencies,” board Chairman John Benoit said. “It appears he prefers political pressure, but I hope he will reconsider his announcement and work with the county to find more appropriate, long-term savings that won’t harm his mission or the community.”

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