Spike of Homicides Causes Oakland Mayor to Push For Reversal of Planned Police Cuts

A spike in homicides and violence has caused Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to push to stop planned cuts to the city's police department.

Schaaf said although she still supports the diversion of some funds to social services, in order to curb the increasing violence, she'll ask the city council to stop the reversal that is supposed to take effect next year, according to The Associated Press.

"When those messages and services are not effective ... the consequences must be swift and certain," Schaaf told reporters Monday on a Zoom call. "There is nothing progressive about unbridled gun violence."

This decision comes after three people were killed this weekend, making the total number of homicides this year 127.

Along with the shifting of funds, the Oakland City Council voted to spend $18 million of programs targeted at stopping street crime and aiding homelessness back in June.

Diverting funds from the police was a move many cities took after the killing of George Floyd, but some, like Oakland, are having to reverse it due to increased crime.

The Portland City Council and the mayor removed millions of dollars from the police budget in June 2020. However, the council recently passed a budget increase that added $5.2 million to the $230 million budget allotted for police.

Increasing homicides, a flux of officers leaving, and political pressure have also caused cities like New York City and Los Angeles, which have held some of the largest Black Lives Matter protests and have a long history with police brutality, to increase their police budgets, as well.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Libby Schaaf, Police Budget, Increase, Oakland
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks at a news conference in Oakland, Calif., on July 26, 2021. Oakland officials will reverse plans to cut police funding and seek to hire more officers as soon as possible, Mayor Schaaf said Monday, Nove. 29, 2021, as a spate of gun violence and fatal shootings has left residents on edge. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo, File

Schaaf said efforts to shift lower-level policing to other departments and efforts aimed at diverting those convicted to other services have not been enough.

Police staffing has also fallen one officer below a 2014 voter-approved measure that requires the police department to have at least 678 sworn officers on staff. Schaaf said the department will boost its recruiting efforts.

That measure requires the city to have at least 678 officers to access funding from a parcel tax.

The union that represents Oakland police called the dwindling number of officers "yet another broken promise to Oakland residents by the "defund-the-police" majority on city council."

Among the other high-profile deaths was the death of a 1-year-old boy who was hit and killed by a stray bullet on an Oakland freeway while he slept in his car seat as his mother drove on a Saturday afternoon. Officials say the vehicle likely got caught in the crossfire of two vehicles exchanging gunfire.

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said in a news conference last week that the police department needs help and asked city council members to "step up" and put aside their political differences to address crime, KPIX-TV reported.

Update (12/01, 5:11 PM): This story's headline and opening graph were changed to better reflect the circumstances around funding for police and the mayor's role in the decision-making process.

Police Budget Increase, Increasing Homicides, Cities
Other cities, like Portland, New York City, and Los Angeles, have increased police budgets in response to increasing homicides in their cities. In this photo, protesters hold signs in support of defunding the police on July 25, 2020 in Oakland, California. Demonstrators in Oakland gathered to protest in solidarity with Portland protests. Natasha Moustache/Getty Images