Oakland to divert $17M from police budget

Oakland to divert $17M from police budget
© getty: People walk down 16th street after “Defund The Police” was painted on the street near the White House on June 08, 2020

The Oakland City Council this week voted to divert $17 million from the Oakland Police Department.

The council approved the controversial decision on Thursday, reallocating $17.4 million from the police department to the Department of Violence Prevention over the next two years, CBSN Bay Area reported.

“We can make adjustments if we need to, but right now we have to focus on our violence prevention, affordable housing, our homeless populations and that’s what this budget helps us move forward and do,” council member Dan Kalb said after the seven to two vote.

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The mayor and police department opposed the move that would eliminate 50 police officer positions amid a rise in street violence for the city.

“Unfortunately, it [the budget] also cuts 50 police officers who respond to Oaklanders’ 911 calls and enforce traffic safety. It also cuts much-needed future academies, which will significantly reduce police staffing and delay response to Oaklanders in their time of crisis,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “It will force our officers to work even more overtime shifts, which are expensive and unsafe for officers and residents alike.

“I believe that until we have proven alternatives, we cannot destroy Oakland’s current public safety system at a time when we are losing so many to gun violence,” the mayor added.

After the death of George Floyd, there have been calls to "defund the police," although few areas have gone through with the move.

“The two 'no' votes are from council members in districts that are most impacted by violent crime. The message they’re saying is ‘we may support your programs but we do not want less public safety at a time of skyrocketing violent crime,’” Oakland Police Officers Association President Barry Donelan said, according to the local outlet.

Cities across the country have been seeing a decrease in the police force since last summer’s protests.