BOSTON (NEWS CENTER) -- The FBI has had a long standing tradition of helping out state and local law enforcement on big cases. But that could soon be fading away or at least eroding.
That is the message coming from the new special agent in charge of the FBI Boston division, which oversees operations in Maine.
"We have to cut $700 million from our budget it's tough to figure out how were going to do that," said Vincent Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Division which includes Maine.
Last month teenager Abby Hernandez disappeared after leaving Kennett High School in Conway, New Hampshire. The most critical time in a missing persons investigation is the first few hours after the report comes in. Conway police wasted no time calling on the FBI for help. The federal agency responded immediately by dispatching agents to New Hampshire. In all 35 agents would work on the case.
"We sent people from Portland Maine we had people from all across Massachusetts from Worcester from Boston proper , we had people from Quantico Virginia go there we had people from our headquarters in Washington go there. So whatever it takes to assist them we'll do," said Lisi.
But that may be the last time the FBI responds like to help out local police.
"Not respond immediately, not respond at all. It might get to the point where we just don't have the resources to assist our state and local partners like that," Lisi said.
Sequestration, the automatic across the board spending cuts to federal government, is weakening what Lisi calls the best law enforcement agency in the world. The FBI must eliminate 3500 positions. The remaining agents will be forced to take unpaid furlough days. The agency's training academy is all but shut down.
"All of a sudden we don't train for two years. Then we have a workforce that's not as proficient as it should be. So the ripple effect of this is going to last for quite a while," Lisi said.
In maine the FBI has thirteen agents spread through three offices in Portland, Augusta and Bangor. Recently the US Attorney for Maine called on the FBI to help with the rash of Pharmacy robberies across the state. With agency's help the robberies dropped from a record 56 last year to just 8 so far this year.
"I would say the team that was put together absolutely had an impact on that," Lisi said.
With the looming cuts Maine will likely have fewer agents here.
"The FBI is going to be a different FBI for the next few years because of sequestration," he said.
The agency is now prioritizing and focusing mainly on National Security and terror threats.