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FIRST ON FOX: Democratic Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon announced “restructuring” plans for the way his office will handle crimes involving special victims, including children, the elders, domestic violence cases and sex crimes Thursday – a day after a year-old memo leaked calling for more staff.

Gascon’s office described the change as an “expansion” of the Family Violence and Sex Crimes Divisions based at headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles. Multiple deputy district attorneys raised alarms Thursday, however, telling Fox News Digital that it amounts to the removal of Vertical Impact Program and Prosecution (VIP) units stationed at branch offices around the county.

The announcement comes a day after the year-old memo, written by the chairperson of a VIP policies and procedures subcommittee in Gascon’s own office, warned of “countywide VIP staffing issues and concerns” and called for more VIP prosecutors.

The Washington Free Beacon published the memo.

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LA District Attorney George Gascon. Gascon issued a new directive this week concerning how crimes are prosecuted against suspects who are not U.S. citizens. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“Let’s just delete the concept of VIP, and then no one can say it’s understaffed,” one source with knowledge of the shift told Fox News Digital.

Under the new system, which goes into effect on March 17, supervisory decisions will be centralized at Gascon’s headquarters – rather than smaller offices connected to courthouses around the sprawling county.

Fox News Digital is told that prosecutors in the VIP units have not yet been given specifics about what their roles will be after that date.

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“We need to organize our office to impose accountability on those who commit serious crimes, including those with influence and power, provide robust resources to victims of serious crime, and support initiatives that prevent crime before it happens,” Gascon said in a statement. “Restructuring will help us to achieve those goals. It will also help us continue to promote a culture of transparency and equity that I have fought for since taking office.”  

District Attorney George Gascon announces charges for a woman who killed several people in a car crash. 

District Attorney George Gascon announces charges for a woman who killed several people in a car crash.  (Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

He appeared to acknowledge the leaked memo as well – noting the change grew out of an internal “working group” that found VIP prosecutors “were overworked and not receiving the support that they needed.”

For George Gascon, who knows absolutely nothing about being a VIP prosecutor (Vertical Impact Program and Prosecution), to disband this unit and claim he’s ‘reorganizing’ it is a complete disgrace,” said Jon Hatami, who spent a decade on the VIP unit in Antelop Valley and rose to prominence as the lead prosecutor in the Gabriel Fernandez case. “There will now be multiple vulnerable victims who may not get justice.”

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Hatami told Fox News Digital that the VIP units have close ties to key players at the local level in a county that includes 88 cities. They include medical experts, specialized law enforcement units and the victims’ families themselves.

“Communities in Los Angeles deserve prosecutors in those communities handling their cases,” he said.

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Gascon, whose controversial directives have been blamed for spikes in Los Angeles crime and led to lawsuits between his office and his own deputy DAs, said the shift will free up resources.

“This restructuring will allow our line prosecutors to refocus their attention on the victims of the most egregious crimes against persons, as VIP originally intended,” he said.




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