Oakland’s City Council voted against another cut to the police department’s budget after a nine hour meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Libby Schaaf cast the tie breaking vote against the cut, just hours after her home and garage were vandalized by protestors calling for the defunding of police.
In June, the council cut the budget by more than $14 million. The latest proposal would have diverted even more funding away from the police and towards schools, housing and violence prevention. Council members who voted against the cut say major budget cuts are still on the table, but want to come up with a more comprehensive solution.
"What we are proposing is about setting us up for success in the next step," said council president Rebecca Kaplan, who supported the measure. "We have stated an intention to have a very significant change."
The proposal came during a national movement to rethink public safety. Advocates of the defunding movement say police budgets have ballooned out of control and argue that investing in other programs like schools and mental health services can improve public safety in the long term, reducing the need for police.
"From a logical standpoint, police do not keep us safer, they do not prevent crimes. Police even in theory is just a bandaid response to crime" said one Oakland resident.
In Oakland, the police department has a budget of $300 million, which makes up 41% of the city’s overall budget.
But, police union president Barry Donelan said cutting the budget will not make the city safer.
“I worry about what the impacts of further reductions. We’re already seeing this spike during a pandemic. When other cities are seeing reductions in crime, we’re seeing significant increases in crime," Donelan said. "Saturday night there were a number of shootings around the city and three murders in 36 hours is a lot, even for us here in Oakland."
City Council members said rather than adopt an incremental budget cut, it will spend the next nine months coming up with a plan to reduce the police budget by 50% in the next fiscal year.