With violent crime rates soaring to their highest levels in a decade, Oakland’s Mayor said the city council’s proposed budget to gut the police department’s budget would further endanger public safety and lengthen 911 response times.
Mayor Libby Schaaf did not mince words about the proposal which was introduced this week by Oakland’s ultra-progressive city council.
“Last month the Administration proposed a budget that would both reimagine public safety with community investments AND maintain the basic police response our most vulnerable community members depend on,” Schaaf said in a written statement. “On Monday, Council President Bas and her Budget Team of Councilmembers Kalb, Gallo, and Fife presented their proposed budget that makes new laudable investments that I fully support, which are primarily funded by an additional $32 million in newly identified revenues.”
Schaaf was highly critical of the council’s proposal to slash the police budget deeper, including a controversial cut to police academy classes that will backfill dozens of vacancies of sworn officer positions.
“However, their proposed budget also: cuts 2 academies of 64 new officers, cuts 9 traffic enforcement positions, and cuts 41 positions dedicated to 911 response,” the Mayor said. “The Council President’s proposed budget would severely decrease police services, especially in our most impacted areas. They would: shrink what is already the lowest per-crime staffed police department in the county during a gut-wrenching spike in gun violence, increase OPD’s unsafe overreliance on overtime and leave even more critical vacancies unfilled, and decimate an already inadequate 911 response to Oaklanders experiencing crisis and needing help.”
Schaaf said the council’s proposed budget would, “decimate 911 response” in Oakland.
“The Administration’s budget proposed last month would have hired more new, diverse, progressive recruits to fill our vacancies so our officers wouldn’t have to work so much unsafe and expensive over time, and we could fully staff 911 response, our successful Ceasefire violence prevention strategy, and increase criminal investigations — all while decreasing proportional police spending in Oakland,” Schaaf said. “The Council President’s budget means roughly 80 people a day (12%) could get no police response to their lower priority 911 calls, and the highest priority calls would get a slower response.”
Oakland’s police force has been stretched thin as officers retire early or seek employment with other law enforcement agencies in communities not seeking to defund police budgets.
“Today, the Oakland Police Department has 717 sworn personnel at all ranks,” according to a statement from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association. “The lowest number in five years — as Oakland faces the highest violent crime rate in a decade. Now the Council’s plan is to defund the Oakland Police Department further. Doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Oakland’s finest will continue to serve as our number attrit down.”
“If you think every Oaklander deserves a dependable response in their moment of crisis, and that we can’t afford to further deplete the low officer staffing Oakland has today during this gun violence spike, NOW is the time to speak up,” Mayor Schaaf asked of city residents. “Ask Councilmembers to reject any budget that further reduces these most critical public safety services.”