Oakland City Council Votes to Defund Police, Stripping More Than $17M from Department Budget
The Oakland City Council approved a budget early Thursday evening that will strip $17.4 million in funding from the Oakland Police Department and direct the money toward other programs.
The $18 million is over the course of the next two years.
There was some expectation that the council would delay the controversial decision but, by a vote of 7-2, the Oakland City Council approved a plan that will redirect the funds from the police department to the Department of Violence Prevention with the intention of improving public safety.
The move comes as Oakland has seen an alarming spike in street violence and deadly shootings, including the mass shooting during Juneteenth festivities at Lake Merritt this past weekend.
The city council held budget discussions that started at 10:30 a.m. Thursday during a special meeting that included hours of public input. Council members Nikki Fortunato Bas and Carroll Fife spearheaded the push to defund the Oakland Police Department with the amended budget vote.
“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,” said councilmember Dan Kalb.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement voicing her opposition to the revised budget and the police department cuts.
“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,” Schaaf’s statement read in part. “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.