Oakland City Council has passed a two-year budget that will divert $ 18.4 million from the police department to fund violence prevention programs, counter
Mayor Libby Schaaf’s plan to increase police spending.
The amended $ 3.8 billion budget, presented by Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and passed on Thursday by 6 to 2 votes, will double funding for the Ministry of Violence Prevention and other non-police social services.
A portion of the reallocated money will go to Oakland Mobile Assistance Community Responders, a non-police program that provides assistance to people experiencing mental health crises through the fire department. It will also help provide affordable housing and improve more than 100 homeless camps.
During Thursday’s meeting, Bas said the city was looking for ways to prevent violence and alternatives to the police to respond to non-violent and non-criminal calls for service.
The approved budget follows the council’s decision last June to form a task force to cut police spending by up to 50%.
Amid the tense debate over police spending and how to protect Oakland residents, Schaaf said the council’s budget would “drastically reduce police personnel” and delay responses to 911 calls.
“I believe that until we have proven alternatives, we cannot destroy Oakland’s current public safety system at a time when we are losing so much to gun violence,” he said. she said in a statement.
Schaaf’s proposed budget would have allocated $ 700 million to the police department and paid for two additional police recruit academies, bringing the city’s total to six.
Instead, the budget passed by city council will impose a hiring freeze on vacant positions, which Schaaf says “will force our officers to work even more overtime, which is costly and dangerous for officers and residents.” .
The budget has been decried by some police reform activists, who have argued that more funds should be spent on social services as the city grapples with an increase in violent crime and homicides, including a shooting mass last weekend that left one dead and seven injured in Lake Merritt.
The Anti Police-Terror Project, an organization that supports reducing police spending and increasing investment in communities, praised the council’s budget.
James Burch, the group’s policy director, said the $ 18.4 million reduction in the police department’s budget was marginal compared to the 50% initially announced by some council members, but it was also “An important step in the right direction”.
“This historic budget guarantees a full audit of the Oakland Police Department and a thorough review of positions that could be civilized, removed from the OPD, or a combination of both,” the group said in a statement.