While most cities are bowing to anti-police sentiment and cutting police budgets while they see surges in violent crime, the city of Sacramento may be taking a different approach. The question is whether political leaders there have the courage to follow through.
Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan has proposed a budget that includes a $9.4 million increase in the city’s police budget. Chan’s requests include money for body camera equipment, training initiatives, and five new sworn officers. Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who proposed a department that has shifted some 911 calls away from police responses (as well as $5.8 million that would have gone to the police department), has said he’s comfortable with the proposed increase and opposed to defunding the police.
Last year, Sacramento saw its highest number of homicides since 2015. One of the victims was a 9-year-old girl, the city’s first juvenile homicide since 2018. The city saw nearly a 30% increase in gun violence, and the Sacramento Police Department also noted an increase in gang activity in the city.
The proposed budget increase for police officers still has to be approved by the City Council. Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela has already announced her opposition. Other City Council members may be hearing the footsteps of anti-police activists, as protesters have shown up to the houses of both Chan and Steinberg, throwing rocks at the latter’s house and destroying lights and security cameras.
Sacramento’s move would be a welcome change, as other cities dealing with crime surges have moved in the opposite direction. Los Angeles decided the best way to combat the surge in gang activity was to downsize its “Hardcore Gangs” unit.
Minneapolis and Portland both cut police funding only to have to confront their own mistakes: Minneapolis had to spend $6.4 million to recruit new officers after a large number of departures, while Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler requested emergency funding to address gun violence after the city disbanded a police unit that investigates gun violence.
Sacramento has a chance to buck the trend set by other Democratic-run cities, where crime is surging and anti-police activists are calling the shots. The City Council can secure the funding for better training for its police officers and to protect Sacramento residents from crime at a time when other cities are shirking this duty. City Council members shouldn’t waste this opportunity.