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Police Funding Draws Heated Debate At Sacramento City Council Meeting

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A heated debate unfolded at a Sacramento City Council meeting Tuesday as community members protested adding more police officers to local streets.

Police funding was in the spotlight at the meeting.

"My constituents regularly say we need more police," said Jeff Harris, city councilmember.

But some community members spoke out against accepting a nearly two-million dollar federal grant that would help fund 15 new police officers.

"[The Sacramento Police Department] does not have the trust of our community," said Corrine McIntosh Sako, an opponent of the grant.

New Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said the request for more officers comes at a time when violent crime rates are on the rise.

"Through November, our stats show that we had 240 people shot within our city," Lester said. "That's a 25% increase."

So how would the new officers be used?

"These 15 officers would help us on the prevention, the intervention, and the mitigation of this violent crime," Lester said.

Opponents say the rise in crime is not because there are fewer officers on the streets.

"It has to do with greater social issues from drug and alcohol abuse, a lack of mental health services, or youth support or housing or economic crisis, just to name a few," said Katie Valenzuela, city councilmember.

"Research has shown over and over again that increasing police doesn't actually make our community safe," said Mai Vang, city councilmember.

Accepting the grant also requires the city to provide matching money.

"Taking this two million dollars now is actually going to cost the city over eight million dollars in four years," Sako said.

And in a 7-to-2 split-vote, the council approved the federal funding.

"We're very fortunate to receive a grant of this size to help us build back our police force," said Jeff Harris, city councilmember.

The grant won't pay for new officers right away. The Sacramento Police Department currently has about two dozen positions unfilled, and they are looking to fill those jobs first.

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