Oakland City Council task force aims to cut police department's budget 'to invest in community'

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ByEric Thomas KGO logo
Friday, September 18, 2020
Oakland City Council members aim to half police budgets by next year
Oakland City Council members met to establish task force aiming to half the city's police budgets starting next Spring.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An Oakland City Council task force is considering cutting the police department budget in half after their first meeting on Wednesday.

The total budget of the department is $300 million which means that 44 percent of Oakland's general fund is spent on policing.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by Minneapolis police and the subsequent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, some members of the Oakland City Council are thinking about reducing the amount the city spends on policing.

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"Not only from this moment, but for years we've been advocating for more police accountability," said Nikki Forunato Bas, an Oakland city councilmember.

Bas co-chairs a new task force charged with "reimagining public safety in Oakland," a group made up of city council members, community members and neighborhood advocates.

The task force is planning to deliver recommendations about what to do with the police budget by next spring.

"So we're aiming to reduce our police budget by 50 percent in order to invest in community," Bas said.

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Specifically, she wants to fund programs aimed at tackling the root causes of crime and poverty.

The union representing Oakland police officers says it welcomes a task force looking for ways to improve policing, but defunding the police is an entirely different matter.

Sgt. Barry Donelan of the Oakland Police Officers Association said he was not invited to join the task force, where himself and other officers would present a different viewpoint.

"We're hitting a 29 percent increase in murders year over year and a 40 percent increase in shootings," Donelan said. "Our view of what we need is more officers out there, especially in East Oakland, addressing some staggering increases in crime that have sparked up this year."

Interim Police Chief Susan Mannheimer was not available for comment on Thursday.

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