Budget cuts would make Richmond less safe, police chief says

Bay Area

RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) – As budget talks intensify in the city of Richmond, the police chief says the proposed $10.3-million in cuts to her department will take officers off the streets and says the city will be less safe.

That discussions over defunding the police have led to low morale in the department.

“I don’t want to see one officer laid off,” Chief Bisa French said.

The prospect of potentially laying off 23 officers and leaving another 12 vacant positions unfilled is the reality Richmond Police Chief Bisa French may be faced with at the end of this month.

That’s if the city council adopts the city’s reimagining public safety community task force recommendations.

The group wants to slash the department’s nearly $70-million budget by $10.3-million.

“I do believe that the city is going to be less safe,” Chief French said.

Luis Chacon is a member of the task force. He says the plans call for taking funds from police and reallocating that money to bolster community resources like gun violence prevention, mental health, homelessness, and youth employment programs.

“Really, what we’re trying to move towards is a place where we are aiming for prevention and intervention to prevent that harm from taking place,” Luis Chacon said. 

“I think that over time, building up the resources in our community will eventually lead to a lower call volume, less crime in our community, but that’s going to take some time. Nothings going to happen overnight where there’s a magic button that we can push and say, ok everybody’s healed, and we no longer need the police,” Chief French said. 

Chief French says talk of defunding her department has led to low staff morale, with at least 18 officers considering work elsewhere.

“I can’t even get people to apply to hire here,” Chief French said. 

If the task force’s budget cuts pass, the layoffs and eliminating positions would take effect July first.

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