BAKERSFIELD - The Bakersfield Police Department will soon shift some of its officers from patrolling local parks to monitoring internet cafes.
This comes on the heels of Councilman Russell Johnson taking the initiative to try and shut the cafes down.
The main discussion at Thursday's city committee meeting was internet cafes and the negative effect, opponents say, they bring to Bakersfield.
"The criminal element is finding these particular locations to be a magnet," said City Attorney Ginny Genarro.
Internet cafes have been the center of controversy since opening up shop in the city.
Cafe owners say their business is legal, but authorities disagree.
Thursday afternoon, city leaders addressed their concerns during a monthly Safe Neighborhoods meeting.
"The 'open for business' sign should be on at actually legitimate businesses in the city of Bakersfield and not on at these gambling halls called internet cafes," said Johnson.
Johnson asked Police Chief Greg Williamson to have officers monitor local internet cafes, and Wiliamson agreed. Officers who normally monitor parks will be switched to the cafes.
"We're sending them letters. We're sending them notices that they're illegal. Lets put a police officer in front of their place and hopefully they'll get the message that they need to go somewhere else because they're not allowed in Bakersfield," Johnson continued.
The City Attorney's office says nearby businesses are suffering. City officials say often times, they receive complaints of prostitution and loitering around internet cafes.
"If our office is aware of the location, we will continue to send out letters warning business owners that they are operating these businesses at their own risk and they also need to be extremely sensitive to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their surrounding community," Genarro added.
Dentist Hal Shapiro says three weeks ago, an internet cafe moved in next to his business. Shapiro says his office is taking a hit.
"I've had people that we don't know come through my business asking my receptionist, give me directions to the casino please. What casino? There shouldn't be a casino," said Shapiro.
The City Attorney's office says it's waiting on a decision from the Court of Appeals to determine if the internet cafes are illegal.