Department of Justice (CA)

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The California Department of Justice

The California Department of Justice is headed by the California Attorney General, an elected state constitutional officer. In addition to a large staff that includes many attorneys, there are two sections that have sworn peace officers that serve as the primary enforcers in major state investigations.

The Division of Law Enforcement

Special agents and the staff of the California Department of Justice are highly trained and provide extraordinary services in specialized fields including:

Conducting narcotic investigations

Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement

Established in 1927, BNE is the oldest narcotic enforcement bureau in the United States. BNE programs target major drug dealers, violent career criminals, clandestine drug manufacturers and violators of prescription drug laws.

BNE operates and manages a variety of programs in its role as the statewide agency involved in enforcing state and federal drug laws and apprehending violent criminals who use illegal weapons in the commission of crimes.

BNE carries out its responsibilities through its headquarters office in Sacramento and nine regional offices in the cities of Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Redding, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. In addition, 48 regional narcotic task forces are operated by the Bureau.

Conducting criminal investigations

The Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence (BII, formerly the California Bureau of Investigation, CBI)

BII identifies major crime trends and initiates complex enforcement and investigative actions. Leadership, expertise, and investigative assistance is provided to law enforcement and sovereign governments in matters requiring the seizure of evidence, interviews of suspects, and other requests from foreign nations that may require investigative support. Investigating the "worst of the worst," including cases involving acts of terrorism, child exploitation, unsolved violent crimes, homicides, officer-involved shootings, and organized crime groups, BII also provides protection to witnesses and family members, conducts criminal investigative analysis, and provides unique forensic and intelligence services to local agencies and the Office of the Attorney General.

BII's Foreign Prosecution and Law Enforcement Program assists state and local law enforcement agencies in the location and prosecution of suspects who are Mexican nationals and flee to Mexico after committing major felony crimes in California; and assists with the deportation from Mexico of American fugitives who are wanted in California for homicide and child abduction cases; provides for the prosecution in Mexico of Mexican citizens who are accused of committing violent crimes in California; investigative assistance to foreign countries in matters that require the seizure of evidence, suspect interviews, and other requests from a foreign nation that may require investigative support; technical and logistical support to agencies requesting assistance involving the return of abducted children; oversees, when requested, the voluntary return or deportation of a foreign national who is a fugitive. Agents assigned to this program are located in the San Diego Regional Office.

Enforcing state gambling and firearm laws and regulations

Bureau of Gambling Control

The Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) attempts to ensure that gambling in California is conducted honestly, competitively and free from criminal and corruptive elements. The Bureau of Gambling Control (Bureau) carries out this mission by working cooperatively with the California Gambling Control Commission (Commission) to develop and implement a means of regulating the gambling industry in California. The primary functions of this regulation include the following:

  • Conduct comprehensive investigations into the qualifications of individuals and business entities who apply to the Commission for state gambling licenses or findings of suitability,
  • Conduct ongoing compliance inspections of gambling operations and establishments throughout the state,
  • Review and approve the rules of games and gaming activities in all California cardrooms prior to them being offered for play.
  • Register non-profit organizations and suppliers of gambling equipment and/or services to conduct charity fundraising events using controlled games.

The Bureau is also committed to reducing problems that result from pathological gambling. To this end, the Bureau is actively working with partners in the gambling and problem gambling research and treatment industries to administer the statewide Self-Exclusion Program. This pro-active program allows individuals to confidentially add their name to a roster of patrons to be excluded from gambling establishments within California.

History and Background

Prior to 1998, California's gambling industry was essentially unregulated. In 1984, the Legislature enacted the "Gaming Registration Act," which required the Attorney General's office to provide uniform, minimum regulation of California card rooms. However, the scope of the Attorney General's authority was extremely limited and funding was inadequate. Recognizing the need for broader oversight of California's gambling industry, the Legislature enacted the "Gambling Control Act" (Chapter 867, statutes of 1997).

In March 2000, the voters of California passed Proposition 1A which amended the California Constitution to permit Class III (casino-style) gaming on Indian land, provided that such activities are authorized by a tribal ordinance and conducted in conformity with a gaming compact entered into between the Tribe and the State. The Tribe and the State share a joint interest in ensuring that tribal gaming activities are free from criminal and other undesirable elements. While the Tribe maintains the primary responsibility for on-site regulation of gaming operations, the State is ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with all aspects of the compact.

The Gambling Control Act (Business and Professions Code section 19800 et seq.) created a comprehensive scheme for statewide regulation of legal gambling under a bifurcated system of administration involving the Division of Gambling Control within the Attorney General's Office and the five-member California Gambling Control Commission appointed by the governor. The commission is authorized to establish minimum regulatory standards for the gambling industry, and ensure that state gambling licenses are not issued to or held by unsuitable or unqualified individuals.

Early in 2007, the Attorney General redefined the Division as a Bureau. The Bureau was positioned within the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement.

Forensic Sciences

Bureau of Forensic Services

The Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS) is the scientific arm of the Attorney General's Office whose mission is to assist the criminal justice system. Forensic scientists collect, analyze, and compare physical evidence from crime scenes or persons. They also provide criminalistics, blood alcohol, and related forensic science information services to state and local law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, and the courts. BFS also offers specialized forensic science training to personnel who are practitioners in the field of forensic science through the California Criminalistics Institute (CCI).

The Attorney General's Office champions the use of proven technology to fight crime that includes analyzing DNA evidence to produce crime-solving matches - improving from an average of one "cold hit" a year to one a day.

Training and Education

The Advanced Training Center

Through the Advanced Training Center in the Attorney General's Office, California law enforcement officers across the state are able to receive specialized training from recognized experts in the field. The courses are certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offered to eligible personnel tuition-free under state and federal government grants.

The division works in partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to take down criminal street gangs, stop the trafficking of dangerous narcotics, and bring criminals to justice.

Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse

Within the Department of Justice, but separate from the Division of Law Enforcement is the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse

The Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse works aggressively to investigate and prosecute those who would rob taxpayers of millions of dollars each year and divert scarce health care resources from the needy. The Bureau also protects patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from abuse or neglect.