SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed has proposed a budget that would slash $120 million from law enforcement and redirect it to investments in the city's African American community.
The reallocation is a form of reparations for decades of policies Breed says have undermined the Black community's ability to prosper in the city.
"As a Black woman who grew up in poverty in this city, police brutality was all too common. It was something we expected and our complaints were usually ignored. Two months ago, the murder of George Floyd shook this country to this core, in a way that I have never seen before," said Breed. "With this budget, we are listening to the community and prioritizing investments in the African American around housing, mental health and wellness, workforce development, economic justice, education, advocacy and accountability."
Under the plan, the San Francisco Police Department's budget would shrink from $40 million in each of the next two years, or six percent of its budget. Another $20 million would be taken from the San Francisco Sheriff's Office.
The police department says most of the money would come from not filling open positions, and vehicle purchases may also be put on hold.
"We knew that there would be pain and sacrifice associated with these budget cuts, but we also know they're necessary to fulfill the promise of Mayor Breed's and Sup. Walton's reinvestment initiative to support racial equality," said Police Chief Bill Scott in a statement posted on Twitter.
The sheriff's office released a statement saying, "The San Francisco Sheriff's Office is collaborating with the Mayor's Office to reduce our budget and redirect funds to support and address historic inequities in San Francisco's Black community. We need responsible redirection that still allows us to continue our work to interrupt the cycle of incarceration caused by the underfunding of education, youth development and economic opportunities."
More than half of the $120 million would be directed to mental health and programs to help Black homeless people. Another 35 percent would be used for education, youth services, and job programs.
Five percent would be used toward redirecting police calls from non-criminal activity, such as having social workers engage with homeless people and those requiring mental health intervention.
"For those who truly believe that Black lives matter, it's important that we listen to Black voices. It's important that we allow Black people to lead this movement," said Breed.
With a total budget of $13.7 billion for the fiscal year 2020-2021 and $12.6 billion for 2021-2022, the two-year budget aims to close a $1.5 billion deficit with the use of reserves, while preserving jobs and making minimal cuts to city services.
Although the city has avoided lay-offs since the pandemic began, Breed said her proposed budget aims to continue that, but it depends on unions for city workers agreeing to delay any planned wage increases for the next two years.
Breed said that so far, talks with police and firefighters' unions have been successful in agreeing to delay wage increases.
"I'm hoping other unions will agree to do the same. I don't think this is too much to ask. Our entire city is suffering now and we all need to do our part to share in that sacrifice," she said. "If the unions don't agree to delay their raises, then we will be forced to lay people off. We will be forced to cut city services."
The city's Board of Supervisors will debate and adjust Breed's proposal before sending it back for her signature no later that October 1.
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