Sacramento proposes city’s highest-ever police budget – despite overwhelming calls to ‘defund’ them

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Despite establishing a new mental health response unit and pulling approximately $10 million away from the police department over two years, the Sacramento Police Department’s budget is set to hit an all-time-high $165.8 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

City Manager Howard Chan proposed a $1.3 billion budget for the city for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. Included in the budget is a $9.4 million increase in the police budget including the hiring of five new sworn officers, funding for replacement of police vehicles, and a 3.5% raise for officers per a December union contract.

The new hires would bring the department to 756 officers.

In addition to the five new officers, the budget details funding for necessary equipment, such as body cameras, set at $1.6 million, and additional IT infrastructures such as data storage, software, and backup solutions, coming in at $1.5 million.

The budget also included $880, 740 for “less-than-lethal” equipment.

The outcry following the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis in May 2020 led to a summer of violence, riots, and protests across the country, including in Sacramento, demanding the “defunding” of police.

Activists called for cities to pull funding from police and create civil programs, such as unarmed mental health responders, to be sent to certain incidents.

Despite calls to defund police departments by left-wing groups and Democratic politicians, most U.S. cities have been unwilling to cut their police budgets at a time of increased violent crime rates.

Although 18 major cities have reduced their police budgets, including  Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas; 24 cities increased their police spending for the fiscal year 2021, including Atlanta, Omaha, and Phoenix as of May 1.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg CityLab:

“Even as the 50 largest U.S. cities reduced their 2021 police budgets by 5.2% in aggregate, often as part of broader pandemic cost-cutting initiatives, law enforcement spending as a share of general expenditures rose slightly to 13.7% from 13.6%.

“And many cities like Minneapolis and Seattle have watered down or put on pause changes that were proposed or even passed at the height of the 2020 demonstrations against racism and police brutality.”

In Sacramento, the budget still must be approved by the City Council, a heavy lift in the Democratic stronghold. Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela has already said she would not vote to approve the new budget with an increase for the police:

“To put more money into law enforcement when we’ve said as a city we want to move in another direction, it doesn’t line up.”

The city created a Department of Community Response in response to police reform protests and riots over the summer. The new unit will respond to 911 calls involving mental health issues, homelessness, and domestic violence.

Law enforcement leaders throughout the country have expressed concerns over unarmed mental health responses, concerned about the uncertain and dangerous circumstances that can develop during such incidents unexpectedly.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg proposed the Department of Community Response claiming $10 million would be diverted from the police budget within two years. Steinberg admitted Wednesday that the diversion of funds did not mean the police budget would shrink:

“I’m not for ‘defunding. There are some things that are part of running a city, like collective bargaining and binding arbitration, and genuine needs for the police department.”

“I’m not going to get pinned to the argument that the measure of whether or not we are investing in the community in an aggressive way is whether or not we’re taking the money directly from the police department.”

In the proposed budget, the Department of Community Response has $5.8 million in funding, including 23 employees. So far it has eight full-time employees and one part-time. The unit has not yet taken over responses to 911 calls, but has been leading the city’s homeless initiatives, Steinberg said.

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LET Unity
Sacramento sees 40% increase in homicides, so the mayor asks activists groups to help stop it

October 6, 2021

 

SACRAMENTO, CA Like many other cities throughout the country, Sacramento saw a substantial increase in homicides in 2020, when compared with the prior year. A recent report states that the city has seen a 40 percent increase in murders since 2019.

Police officials say the city has endured at least 12 shooting incidents since Oct. 2, some of which were fatal.

The single worst day so far was Oct. 3, with four separate shootings resulting in three people being killed and nine others injured. Among the slain were a 9-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy.

Police were investigating yet another case on Oct. 5, in which a man was shot and killed near Dry Creek Road and Harris Avenue.

Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn stated that officers are working diligently to solve all the murders, saying:

“I can ensure these communities and these families that our officers are working tirelessly to find out who did it and hold them accountable.”

Authorities in Sacramento have recently made 10 arrests linked to weapons and have also seized nine unlawful firearms.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg recently announced that a number of community organizations are stepping up in an effort to quell problems before they devolve into violence.  

He said the effort is going to involve community members from the various organizations literally standing on a number of undisclosed street corners to try and engage in conflict resolution.

However, Steinberg’s announcement was met with skepticism as to how effective the method would be in preventing murders. 

However noble the cause may be, the critics online haven’t been the kindest toward the mayor. One Twitter user responded to the announcement with:

“You can’t just announce that apparently random people will be out on the streets attempting to deescalate an unknown source of violence without giving any information. No wonder no one [in] this city wants a ‘strong mayor’ . . .”

Another Twitter user asked whether these people stationed have any formal training in de-escalation techniques:

“Are they trained in intervention and de-escalation?”

Chief Hahn seemed to be optimistic about the program and what the organizations might be able to do on the city’s streets. He praised Brother to Brother, one of the groups involved, saying:

“Now what those resources are, it’s not just law enforcement resources. It’s multiple resources, and it’s going to take all of us together to figure out exactly what that is. I can tell you what does that. Groups like Brother to Brother does work. They’ve been out there this entire weekend working with families.”

Aaron Cardoza is among those working with the group Brother to Brother, and knows first-hand what it’s like to engage in senseless violence and wind up in prison – he was incarcerated as an 18-year-old for his part in a shooting.

Cardoza’s work with the organization, in an effort to end the shootings and murders, is one way he’s trying to atone for his mistakes as a youth:

“A lot of us have been there before and done that, and . . .  we want to give back from what we took from the community. We just want to help and make sure we have a safe environment for the youth coming up.”

 

 

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