SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Social activists in Sacramento are unhappy with a newly-released proposal that recommends increasing the city’s police budget despite calls to shift spending away from law enforcement.
The city budget proposal offered by the Sacramento City Manager’s Office calls for an increase in the police department budget by $9.4 million to an all-time high of nearly $166 million.
It comes in the wake of last summer’s George Floyd demonstrations and a nationwide call to defund police departments.
Flojaune Cofer is the senior director of policy at Public Health Advocates and chairs the Measure U Advisory Committee, which is charged with selecting areas where the city could spend its sales tax increase.
“It’s a little disappointing still because we had hoped that it would go in a different direction,” Cofer told FOX40 Monday.
Cofer said the Measure U funds never went to intended programs when the pandemic hit.
The advisory committee has recommended spending city dollars on preventive and social programs in underserved communities, rather than on police response.
“Our investments in prevention are part of what we consider. The primary role is in fact public safety,” Cofer explained. “I frequently say to people, ‘Justice for me is not solving my murder, it’s never being murdered in the first place.’”
There is a recognition that the police budget is going up because of negotiated salary increases and investment in non-lethal weapons and systems, as well as other equipment needs.
Tim Davis with the Sacramento Police Officers Association has told FOX40 in the past that traditional police services are valued by a majority of city residents.
“Our community at large wants more police services, not less,” Davis said.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg has said he is against defunding police but that many community and prevention programs can also be funded by the city.
But some are saying now is a time to shift the entire focus of policing.
Cofer said the police budget is not a done deal and still has to go through the budget committee before the full city council.
“This is the point now where we need to be very vocal as a community to say we don’t want this proposed budget to be our final budget,” Cofer said.
The city has already taken steps to remove homeless and mental health response from the police department, shifting funding to a civilian unit, but the police department costs have gone up in other areas.
The city budget must be approved by June 30.