Oakland Council members push again on police finances calls for, saying “It is not a reduce” – CBS San Francisco
OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Oakland City Council last week voted to siphon money from the police, leading many to believe that the department’s budget has been cut. But some who made that decision told KPIX 5 that this is a misunderstanding.
At a press conference on Monday, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong condemned the city council’s $ 18 million budget cuts. He said it would reduce police response and reduce the number of new recruits by cutting two academy classes over the next two years.
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“Today we are in a crisis,” Armstrong told reporters. “It’s already difficult for us to respond to the high number of calls. That will make it more difficult to have fewer officers in the field. “
According to Council President Nikki Fortunado-Bas, this “cut” may not be a cut at all.
“The action we took on the budget was to reduce a mayor-proposed increase from $ 27 million to just $ 9 million,” said Fortunato-Bas. “It wasn’t a cut.”
The President-in-Office of the Council said it had simply been decided not to increase the number of academies by two, as recommended in the mayor’s draft budget.
Participating in this action was an unlikely ally: Councilor Noel Gallo.
“The mayor had assigned it and she wanted to help,” he said. But Gallo said an increase of $ 9 million instead of $ 27 million was not a reduction, “Gallo said. “It’s not a cut.”
Gallo, an outspoken police advocate, said he was upset that police were complaining about staff shortages. He said he got the funding years ago to fully staff the department of 782 officers, but it never happened.
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“That money sits there every year, but they didn’t pull it off,” he said. “They didn’t hire, they never got 782. But they worked overtime.”
Instead of funding the additional academies, the council decided to use the money on crisis response programs without police involvement to de-escalate violent interactions between officials and the public.
Oakland African American Floyd Allen said his community often gets tense when the police arrive.
“There is no consolation when you see a policeman come with a gun. It’s like, oh, I’ll go to jail or I’ll get shot, especially for black people, “Allen said.
“You have money now, but there is more violence right now. So you want more money? It’s not really being used for what it should be. It shouldn’t just be for weapons, it should be for advisors. “
Fortunato-Bas said there are other funds that the department will lose, but they are funds for activities for which the police are no longer responsible.
The response to mental health crises is now taken over by the fire department and problems with traffic nuisance are transferred to the traffic department.
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The approved budget for the police department is valid for the next two years of operation, starting on July 1st.