RICHMOND (KCBS) – Deputy district attorneys in Contra Costa County said that a strike is a distinct possibility given the wave of deep cuts that have swept through their office.

Since 2006, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has lost more than 30 prosecutors – many to neighboring counties that pay more with lighter workloads.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

District Attorney Mark Peterson recently told the San Jose Mercury news his office is the most understaffed, overworked prosecutorial unit in the Bay Area, and cutting compensation further will hurt morale and likely lead to more attorneys leaving.

“It would be very difficult if not impossible to staff all the courtrooms,” Peterson told the Mercury News. “It could result in criminals going free.”

In July, the county imposed a contract on deputy district attorneys, cutting wages by 5.25 percent while also reducing benefits.

“We have actually taken a vote as an association related to a potential work action, which includes a strike,” said homicide prosecutor Mary Knox.

Also serving as a contract negotiator, Knox said such a labor action may come sooner than later, but she’s not tipping her hand to county officials.

“We can’t give them forewarning of when we would be planning a strike because then they could enjoin us before we went on strike,” she said.

Knox said that there is a true crisis to public safety in the county due in large part to an inadequately staffed district attorney’s office.

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