City council rejects further Oakland Police Department cuts with mayor breaking tie vote

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland City councilmembers failed late Tuesday night to take millions more in funding away from the Oakland Police Department, even though it appears many residents are demanding it.

For the last item on the agenda, council members voted on a motion to cut OPD funding. Mayor Libby Schaaf broke a deadlocked 4-4 council vote. She said OPD is already strained as it is and stopped a larger cut from being made to police.

Oakland City Council's meeting started at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon and stretched on past 11:30 pm.

Mayor Schaaf sent out an email before the meeting got underway where she stated "Today, Councilmembers Kaplan and Bas are proposing a dangerous and irresponsible amendment to that already-approved budget. Their proposal would further impair emergency response capabilities, as well as make illusory budget cuts that could throw Oakland into even greater fiscal vulnerability."

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Councilmembers Loren Taylor and Nikki Bas spearheaded a proposal of creating a task force that they said would 'reimagine public safety.'

Councilmember Taylor said one public safety system does not work for everyone. "What we are proposing, that there be a 15 task force made of nominees made up of each geographic district," Taylor said.

Taylor said they are encouraging people to reach out to him or Bas for comments.

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Councilmember McElhaney said she'd like all the members be apart of creating this task force.

"I will ask that all councilmembers be listed as co-sponsors. I certainly would want to make sure we are speaking in one voice," McElhaney said.

Next week council members will vote on the task force. Taylor said by the end of year, the target is having a draft of the task force with community input. The final recommendation will be made by the end of March next year.

Another item that was decided was moving the handling of special events into the city's administrator's office instead of the police department.

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Before all these items were decided on, public comment lasted for nearly three hours.

Some of the comments included the statements below:

"I was really appalled to find Libby Schaaf's email in my inbox this morning, and calling to oppose the very changes the public is demanding the city council right now. So I am calling in now to do the opposite of what she asked for. To voice strong support for item 15."

"I along with so many others are speaking in full support of proposals by Bas and Taylor to defund the OPD 11.4 million this year, and to form a task force which must be led by the most impacted community members."

Bay City News contributed to this report.
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