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Council to consider police funding from Measure U

Just as Sacramento is facing an increase in gun crime city wide, and a rash of muggings on the grid (including one Friday in which a woman was shot), the City Council is tasked with the decision of where to funnel funds resulting from the passage of the Measure U sales tax. What no one disputes is that the Sacramento Police Department has endured serious cuts, the question in front of the council now is how the department should be restored.

On Tuesday night the council members will vote on city staff recommendations regarding the usage of Measure U funds, and those recommendations will then be finalized with more detail in the city’s budget, which will go before the council on Jan. 29.

The Measure U funds must go to the restoration of services lost, not new ones, though those restored services may not look the same as before. Public safety services approved for restoration include 9-1-1 response, police officers, gang/youth violence prevention and fire protection and emergency medical service, according to the city staff report . Additional services that could benefit from Measure U include park maintenance, youth/senior services and libraries.

We reached out to the council members to get their thoughts. These are the responses we’ve received so far, we’ll update if anyone else chimes in.

Steve Cohn, District 3

“Public safety is the number one priority, to restore service with sales tax Measure U money. We told people that would be the priority and it still is. We cut back police too much, as well as other departments, but the police we really cut to the bone…

“Patrol is the most important, but ironically in order to save cuts from patrol we cut so much in other areas, such as detectives and crime scene investigation…We’ve cut so much that it’s very difficult to prosecute someone on a burglary. Patrol first and foremost, but even CSI and detectives – those departments need to be restored as well.”

Jay Schenirer, District 5

“The first thing we need to do is maintain the minimum of the current force .We have a federal COPS grant that will be expiring at the end of the year, so we want to ensure there is potential for using Measure U to retain those policemen. After that, it really is a matter of sitting down with our new police chief, whoever that might be, and talking about an overall strategy.

“In addition to that, when you talk about public safety, it’s more than just police. It’s about strong neighborhoods. So I think there is a number of things we need to talk about that go beyond the numbers…We need to look at the entire picture.”

Kevin McCarty, District 6

"I hope we can hire at least 100 new officers. I have confidence that the City Manager and the Police Chief will devise a specific deployment plan, however, I am hoping that patrol units will be fully staffed, and we are able to restore depleted and eliminated units such as gang intervention, POP/Neighborhood policing teams, Community Service Officers and illegal gun suppression."

Darrell Fong, District 7

“The city manager, chief of police and the staff will make recommendations. I don’t want to comment; I want to see what plans they bring forward. This is the time to look at different procedures and programs to address crime.

“Just because a unit existed in the past doesn’t mean they will be brought back in the same shape or form. This is not going to get us back where we were before, but to a place better off than we were before…This is about restoring services and public safety.”

What are your thoughts on restoring services to our city? What areas need the most attention, and how can the city best use these funds to ensure the public safety of our community? Share your thoughts in the conversation below.

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