OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao introduced her $4.2 billion budget to the city council on Wednesday.
Her proposed budget calls for a reduction in positions for full-time police officers. No officers will be laid off, but rather a hiring freeze will occur where job openings stay vacant. “Regarding public safety from the crime, the shootings, the side shows, the robberies and so forth,” said Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo.
He said public safety is the number one priority and he has concerns when reading through Thao’s proposed budget. If approved, the city will implement a hiring freeze at the Oakland Police Department.
“Right now, what I have is close to 700 officers when I should have close to 780, so I at least want to make sure we were what we were before having 720 officers,” said Gallo.
No changes will be made to OPD’s six police academies, which is a positive in Gallo’s opinion.
Not everyone shares his concerns about the hiring freeze. Deputy Director of the Anti-Police Terror Project James Burch has been advocating for a reduction in policing for years.
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“This is a step in the right direction. Tens of millions of dollars are spent every year for the Oakland police to police activities that aren’t crimes. So, those are millions of dollars that need to be spent for housing, for healthcare, for medical care, for youth services,” said Burch.
Gallo said he understands some people argue to defund the police, but he doesn’t understand how that argument makes sense given the fear that residents have in Oakland. “I just had somebody about an hour ago complain about being robbed. (He) calls the police and nobody shows up and so those are realities we are facing,” said Gallo.
Mayor Thao presented her budget to the Oakland City Council, but it will take several weeks before it’s voted on. The budget must be approved by June 30.