(The Post Millennial) – Oakland, Calif., approved the further underfunding of their police force with the passage of a new city budget that reallocates $18 million from the mayor’s proposed police budget to community organizations. Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong ripped into the cuts, which come as the city sees a violent crime spike.
This weekend saw four murders, and and a shooting officers responded to minutes before Chief LeRonne began his news conference. “On July 1, is the city going to be safer than it is today?” LeRonne Armstrong asked regarding the two-year, $3.8 billion budget, which goes into effect Thursday.
“Today, we find ourselves in a crisis,” Armstrong said. “We find ourselves reeling from a weekend of violence where we have seen four homicides over a three-day period … Our shootings are up over 70 percent compared to last year. Our robberies are up 11 percent this year. There’s been 1,300 robberies in this city already this year.”
“Our carjackings are up nearly 88 percent. So, we see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland and our response was for less police resources. When City Council members, the majority have voted to defund this police department, that additional $17 million that was reduced from the police department’s budget will have an impact,” LeRonne said.
“When you hear the statements from those that say nothing will change – that is not true,” Armstrong continued. “Yes, it will. The impact will be immediate. Slower response time to emergency calls for service. The 911 surge units that were used to respond to violent crime, used to respond to community members calls to our 911 system, will have less resources. Less officers responding.”
Armstrong added that the police are already overwhelmed by the number of 911 calls. “We already have a tough time responding to the high number of calls that we get. This will make it tougher.”
The chief said there are 714 officers protecting a city of over 420,000 people, but the number of officers is declining with an average of 5 officers leaving the department every month and will be below 700 officers by December. “Our department is not growing, it is shrinking.”
Two armed robbers held up a television news crew interviewing Oakland’s director of violence prevention outside City Hall, hours after the police chief delivered his remarks on the increasing crime following cuts to the police department budget.
If it was a screenplay, they’d say this was "…a little too over the top."
— Kmele (@kmele) June 29, 2021
Though the new budget increases the police department’s spending from $665 million to about $674 million, the police department’s share of the budget will now be 18 percent instead of the requested 20 percent and will not include Mayor Libby Schaaf’s proposal to increase the police budget by $18 million. Estimates show that due to the budget cuts, 50 vacant officer positions will not be filled.
Anti-police activist groups celebrated that more than $17 million would be redirected to the Department of Violence Prevention thereby doubling their budget and quadrupling the amount the city allocates to the department from the general fund.
Oakland has had 65 homicides so far this year, an increase of 90 percent over what it was at this time last year.