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Why Sacramento's police reforms likely won't include dismantling the police

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said that he would like to see a new force of medical professionals taking on mental health emergency calls instead of police.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Conversations on police reform are happening around the country as people demand change following the death of George Floyd. 

The shift is evident. Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, says he is looking to cuts of $100 to $150 million dollars from the police department, which then would be invested into programs that help support the black community. 

In Minneapolis, members of the city council are wanting to dismantle the police department.

In Sacramento, Mayor Darrell Steinberg says he wants change, but don't expect things to go as far as dismantling the Sacramento Police Department.

“No, I don’t think that is a rational or credible way to go about these very serious and systemic problems,” said Steinberg.

The mayor says we need to reconsider what we are asking officers to do. He says they shouldn’t be answering every 911 call that comes in.

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“They are neither trained adequately, nor is it appropriate with people with batons and guns to be entering into so many of these situations that don’t have anything to do with an actual criminal act,” Steinberg said.

He said that he would like to see a new force of medical professionals taking on mental health emergency calls.

“We should have trained mental health workers that are responding to the family member whose loved one who is in psychiatric crisis,” says Steinberg

Funding for such ideas could come from Measure U or even from the police department, if they no longer have to perform that service. 

According to the proposed budget for fiscal year 20/21, the City of Sacramento is looking to set aside nearly half of Measure U sales tax funds for the police department.

About $42 million would pay for police salaries, investments in body-worn cameras, shotspotter, police observation pods, and more funding for mental health and impact teams on the force.

“Well sure, although Measure U right now has been depressed so to speak because of the COVID-19 crisis. Ultimately, where does the money come from? It could come from the police department if they no longer need to perform the function,” Steinberg said. 

Mayor Steinberg says he is not ready to announce police reforms yet, but he is looking ahead at what needs to change. That includes states laws that allows people with a racist point of view to be part of the police force and discussion on use of force policies.

Steinberg says the next step will be having the conversation with the community and the police department.

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