Last week, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved the 2020-2021 budget, with much debate centered around a 7.1% increase in funding for the county sheriff’s office.
The decision came after intense public debate surrounding reports that $104 million in county coronavirus relief funding had been redirected to the sheriff’s office, and in the wake of several waves of protests in the city of Sacramento calling for law enforcement services to be defunded.
During the deliberation, thousands of calls and comments were submitted requesting a diversion of funds from the sheriff’s office to be redirected to alternative community services.
The Sacramento Bee reports that Sheriff Scott Jones has cost the county tens of millions of dollars in lawsuit fees, including an estimated $16 million in excessive force lawsuit fees and a $27 million personal injury lawsuit that broke county records.
A proposal to divert $1.5 million from the sheriff’s office toward community-based mental health programs, approximately 0.25% of the office’s newly-approved funding, was approved, but diverting funds from the sheriff’s office was rejected by Supervisor Don Nottoli, who instead requested County Executive Nav Gill to identify an alternative source for the money within 45 days of the meeting.
“In the end, genuine interest in public safety over politics carried the vote,” Jones wrote on Facebook after the budget was passed. “A heartfelt thank you on behalf of myself and many others to Supervisors [Nottoli], Frost, and Peters.”
A recent survey of over 2,000 people conducted by the People’s Budget Sacramento found that participants would allocate only 7% of county funds toward combined law enforcement services on average, whereas the 2019-2020 county budget allocated 70% of funds for it.
The survey indicates that participants most support allocating funds towards ‘Community-based Mental Health & Wellness’, ‘Housing Support and Homeless Services’, and ‘Public Health/Healthcare Services’, with each category receiving support from over 90% of participants.
In contrast, 80% of participants expressed that police and sheriff funding should be reduced, with 71% advocating for the reduction of court funding.
“Survey responses were pretty clear,” said City Councilmember elect Katie Valenzuela, who first announced The People’s Budget Sacramento, in interview with CapRadio. “[F]olks want less money spent on law enforcement, and more money spent on things that prevent the need for law enforcement.”
The approved budget took effect on Tuesday.