Federal agents in Seattle are bracing for the fallout from the deep budget cuts known as the sequester.
But the cuts won’t just affect federal law enforcement.
The federal government offers grants that pay millions of dollars in overtime to local police officers and the Washington State Patrol for drunk driving patrols.
These patrols often target holiday drivers and big sporting events where alcohol is flowing freely.
“I’m really, really concerned,” said Mischelle Davis of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “We have a bunch of these drinking holidays coming up and then we have prom season, graduation season and then the hundred deadliest days of summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”
It’s unclear if, or when, cuts would be made to grants that support DUI and seatbeat patrols.
The head of the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, which administers $10 million in federal grants each year, does not believe DUI patrols will be first on the chopping block. But he says he’s waiting for further guidance from Washington, DC about what will be cut.
Meanwhile, furlough notices have arrived at the offices of federal agents and prosecutors.
“It just means we’re gonna have to cut back and we’re gonna have to really prioritize what we do,” said Kelvin Crenshaw, the Agent-in-Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in Seattle.
Crenshaw said agents have been warned that they could each receive up to 14 unpaid furlough days through September.
However, Crenshaw warned criminals should not expect a free pass during that time. He said agents will remain focused on violent crime.
“The people that are convicted felons that are carrying guns, we’re still gonna go after them," said Crenshaw. "The people trafficking guns, we’re still gonna go after them and we’re gonna go after them with a vengeance.”