Sacramento proposes city's highest-ever police budget, bucks 'defund' trend

The new budget would see a $9.4 million increase over last year's police funds

A California city is set to buck the "defund" trend as it plans to unveil its highest-ever police budget.

The proposed police budget is set just shy at $165.8 million, a roughly $9.4 million increase from last year’s amended budget.

Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan presented the new annual budget, which is set to start with the next fiscal year July 1. One notable item was the police budget, which has continued to grow year over year -- barring a small amendment last year to remove $1 million.

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Sacramento had voted in October 2020 to push for "new approaches" to public safety, but the new budget covers a number of changes that would be necessary for general police reforms.

The budget covers a number of additions, including five new officers and necessary equipment, such as body cameras -- set at $1.6 million -- and IT infrastructures such as data storage, software and backup solutions -- coming in at $1.5 million.

The budget also proposes $880,740 for "less-than-lethal" equipment.

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The mammoth new budget flies in defiance of a trend seen across the country, with at least 18 major cities reducing their police budgets over the past year.

However, 24 cities increased their police spending for fiscal 2021, as well, including Atlanta, Omaha and Phoenix. 

"To put more money into law enforcement when we’ve said as a city we want to move in another direction, it doesn’t line up," Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela, who represents the Central city and Land Park, told the Sacramento Bee.

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The city established the Department of Community Response in July 2020 in response to calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg proposed the new department, saying it would result in a $10 million shift from the police department over two years -- a shift that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.

"Wasn’t the whole point that we were going to shift some things away from police? So why would they need more money?" said Flojaune Cofer, activist and chair of the city’s Measure U Citizen Advisory Committee. "Given everything that’s happened over the last year, why is that where we’re placing our dollars?"

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Steinburg argued that the budget did not increase as much as it would have.

The budget still needs approval, and it is subject to further changes.