Will gov't cuts affect local sheriffs offices?

Published On: Mar 11 2013 03:38:41 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 07 2013 09:04:37 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

With the federal government now saying it will cut billions from the Department of Justice, local sheriffs are standing by to see what will really happen with their agencies.

Could services be cut, or will the agencies not feel much of an effect?

"We have not seen any changes or anything at this point," Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said earlier this week on a neighborhood walk. "I am going to be a little surprised at 2 percent. Two percent has that much of an impact. I just don't see the sky falling. If not, they are not cutting very smart."

A letter sent from the Department of Justice to police agencies across the country says more than $1.6 billion would be cut from the department's current fiscal year, resulting in serious consequences for the administration of justice for communities across the nation.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler received that letter and said he has not heard how it will impact his office. He said it could possibly lose some federal grants that help in crime fighting.

"Some of the money -- about $300,000 a year in federal grants -- we received could be impacted," Beseler said. "We don't know what degree or how soon that could happen. Some of that money would go to specialized training, specialized equipment, some of the sexual predator operations we have done in the past. Catching people who were sneaking underage girls were paid for with federal grant money."

Right now, it's a wait and see approach, but Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson says the impact could be much more, depending on what happens with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

"Your federal agencies does a lot of your high-profile drug enforcement-type things," Jefferson said. "Now it can fall back on the locals if you got a drug issue going on in your area that the feds would come in and normally take over if they don't have the resources they can take over. So they are going to have the drug problem, or you are going to investigate that yourself and it's going to fall on the local law enforcement."