Cities and School Districts Are Cutting Police. Where Are the Savings Going?

Municipalities and school districts across the state are slashing their police budgets in response to calls for criminal justice reform. Now, we’re getting a closer look at how the spare funds are being used. 

Early Wednesday morning, the Berkeley City Council approved a budget with $9.2 million in police cuts, much of it redirected to social programs. Oakland stripped $14.3 million from its police budget last week, but city officials vowed to go further in response to protests. San Francisco city leaders — with backing from Police Chief Bill Scott — said weeks ago they are looking to move funding away from policing and into other city services.

Last month, the Oakland Unified School District board voted to purge officers from school campuses. And BART, the Bay Area’s sprawling transit agency, recently diverted $2 million from police and fare inspectors toward unarmed ambassadors. Its board also plans to shift some duties — including mental health calls — away from law enforcement this fall. — Governing

The Los Angeles City Council also voted to slash the police budget Wednesday and bring staffing down to levels not seen since 2008. It will rely on an unarmed force of community personnel for non-violent calls. The Los Angeles Unified School District, meanwhile, says it will redirect $25 million from its school police budget toward counseling services and other programs that foster students' mental health.

These are bold experiments. They could pay off and serve as models for other jurisdictions — or they could backfire, leading to calls for more policing if there's an uptick in violence. 


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