By Antonio R. Harvey, OBSERVER Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO – On May 25, the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn pleaded to the city council for a nearly $10 million department budget increase.

Hahn proposed an SPD spending budget of $166 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The city spent $156 million for the police department in 2020-21, which was $21 million more than 2019-20. 

Chief Hahn said his department is undermanned and that crime has increased dramatically. SPD has 702 sworn officers.

“We have consistently been one of the lowest-staffed departments in the country,” Hahn said.

SPD officers received a 3.5% raise in late 2020. The proposed additional $9.4 million would cover the hiring of five more officers. The budget is expected to be finalized and voted on by June 15. 

Many from the community who spoke out at the city council meeting echoed calls for decreasing police funding. Those calls became widespread nationally last year when cell-phone video emerged of Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly nine minutes. 

During public comment, Courtney Poole asked the council to cut at least $30.5 million from SPD, which would restore the department to 2019-20 spending levels, and that it commit to further decrease in next year’s budget.

“Reject any proposed increases to the Sacramento Police Department’s budget,” Ms. Poole said. “You have heard your community loud and clear, and we want investment in participatory budgeting, youth and community services, housing, and small business support. This is just a small step in the direction to have our city’s budget match the priorities and values of our people.”

Some other residents called the council meeting to express their support of chief Hahn, asking for the community to give him the opportunity to implement changes to the department that better serve the community.

“I ask the council to push aside politics and agendas to support, who I believe is, the best police chief in the country,” said Jay King, president of the California Black Chamber of Commerce.

“We are watching police reform and the overhauling of the police department happen right before our very eyes. It’s not happening at lightning speed because it’s real change … so I ask (those) who really love our city, to let the chief do his work and support this budget,” he added.

Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela, the District 4 representative, said the current police department structure is “not working.” It has been a primary issue for her since well before she was elected in 2020.

“We gave the department last year the most money that we’ve ever given them then and were still seeing the same increases in violent crime,” Ms. Valenzuela said.

The city also is going ahead with plans to allocate $5.8 million to develop the Department of Community Response (DCR), which establishes an alternative model for addressing 9-1-1 calls that don’t require an officer response.

Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan in February appointed Bridgette Dean as DCR director to advance those efforts, develop the program and create a service model.