Police protest outside Sacramento city hall
SACRAMENTO, CA - Hundreds of police officers and staff members turned out Tuesday night before a city council budget hearing to protest the proposed $12 million worth of cuts.
A total of 167 police department positions, including the jobs of 80 sworn officers, are on the chopping block.
Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel explained to city council members how far the department has come in combating crime and improving community policing. He said deep cuts would reverse all that.
Sacramento residents, like Richard Falcon, agree.
"When you start cutting those things, people are going to be disheartened," Falcon said. "People are going to feel dis-enfranchised; people are going to feel frightened."
Meanwhile, others argue the reality of the drastic cuts is longer waits when you call 911.
"Every second counts, especially when you have a loved one who's suffering a heart attack, a mother finding her child floating in a pool. Minutes count," supervisory dispatcher with Sacramento Police Department Paul Troxel said.
Troxel said his job is on the line. "With the budget cuts, my rank (as) supervising dispatcher would be eliminated," Troxel said.
Late Tuesday night, the City Council voted 6-0 not to accept the current budget proposal to make $12 million in cuts to the police department. According to police spokesman Norm Leong, the police department is waiting for further clarification from the City Manager's office and the City Council on how to proceed.
Sacramento is grappling with a $39 million budget shortfall. The City Council is expected to make a final decision on proposed cuts to various departments and adopt a final budget by June 21.
Next week, Sacramento City Council will consider the proposed $9 million worth of budget cuts to the Sacramento City Fire Department. Those cuts could mean increasing the number of brownouts from two to six, and may even include closures.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org