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Defund The Police? City Council Member, Black Lives Matter Activist Discuss What That Means To Them

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As the fallout from the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police continues across the nation, communities are rethinking the roles of officers. Among a national call to defund the police, a newly elected Sacramento council member is proposing cutting $10 million from the police department's new budget.

Katie Valenzuela suggests cutting $10 million of what she said is new funding that the department received in their budget for the next fiscal year starting July 1st.

"Defunding police doesn't mean that there shouldn't be somebody to respond if something happens. What this really is about is what is the role of police in the community and what we should be paying other people to do," said Valenzuela.

She wants those funds instead to go toward youth programing including things like mental health services and job training in the area. In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed announced this week SFPD will no longer respond to non-criminal calls. Valenzuela, in a similar push, said she believes the calls police respond to need to be changed.

"Not so much how we approach crime when it happens, but how do we reduce crime from happening in the first place and that is going to require us to invest differently in our communities," she said.

According to a city spokesperson, the new $10 million is from a proposed budget. Instead, they say the police department will see a $2.9 million increase from this year's current budget. The department's budget increased from its current budget of $154 million to $157.4 million next fiscal year, according to the city.
The city's new budget was passed as a "continuation budget," meaning it does not contain programmatic cuts or major augmentations. The city says they are continuing to monitor the expected revenue shortfall from the pandemic.

Tanya Faison from Black Lives Matter Sacramento believes the department should not be funded at all.

"I think of that as a state of abolition. Because if they are not receiving funding, they cannot exist," she said.

Faison instead wants funding put back into the community to build up resources to respond to issues police currently are tasked with.

"They are using our tax dollars that we pay to attack us," she said. "It could be each neighborhood taking care of itself, but we do need to put something in its place and they do need to go away."

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Former Republican State Congressman Doug Ose said defunding the police is not a realistic solution.

"If you take the police out of those neighborhoods, who is going to protect the people that actually still live there? So, you have to be careful of what you ask for," he said.

Ose instead wants to see a nationwide registry that tracks officers offenses. Frustrated with the lack of definition of the term 'defund the police,' he is calling on lawmakers to bring more context to what that would look like.

"There are real-world consequences to that and that hasn't been thought out," he explained. "You're not telling me treat addicts. You're not telling me help the mentally ill. You are saying defund the police, all I'm asking for is clarity. Tell me what you mean."

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg previously told CBS13 that he is against defining the department entirely, but said changes need to be made including redefining the expectations of officers.

A spokesperson for the mayor said they expect to release more information on what changes may look like next week.

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