Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf addresses defunding police, says city needs to invest in reform instead

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf joined ABC7 News' Midday Live to discuss her thoughts on defunding the police and the latest COVID-19 updates in the city.

Schaaf shared there is a need to invest in more "non-law enforcement methods of safety" and safety not only includes the police but also education, housing security, health and financial security.

"There is definitely room to create more responses that don't involve a gun or a badge," Schaaf said. "In Oakland, we are exploring standing up a model from Oregon that involves a mobile crisis response with medics, not law enforcement. And we absolutely believe we need to invest in more non-law enforcement methods of safety."

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The mayor said it was important for people to understand that some people rely on the police for safety.

"We have to recognize that in Oakland, more than 100,000 people every year call 911 wanting the police to respond, we know that Oakland police have saved lives, have prevented harm, have brought justice and resolution to victims of crime and we have to honor that sense of safety also."

Investment is necessary for also training and holding officers accountable, Schaaf added.

"We also must invest, not divest in training and holding accountable our officers, to make sure they are policing without any bias, without any unnecessary force, that they are conducting themselves in the ways that are consistent with our progressive values in Oakland, that requires investment."

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In the interview, Schaaf said she proposed $122 million in budget cuts due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the largest departmental cut was the police department which was 19-20% of the city's budget.

Though the city made cuts they also managed to expand funding for homeless services, affordable housing options and to address illegal dumping in East Oakland.

"We cannot afford to divest, we need to invest in better reformed policing," Schaaf said.

Watch the full interview in the media player above.
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