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Oakland Considers ‘Defund The Police’

Russell Mondy
Flickr / Creative Commons

Oakland councilmembers are proposing serious changes to their police department budget.

This past year, Oakland Police Department’s budget was $318 million — almost 20% of the city’s entire budget. Demands to cut the OPD’s budget are not new, but have gained significant momentum since last month's killing of George Floyd.

This past Tuesday, District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas proposed shifting $25 million from the OPD to fund community-based, policing alternatives that increase public safety. She also called for a hiring freeze of 46 unfilled police officer positions. Bas estimates that this action alone would free up $12.5 million. Council President Rebecca Kaplan has proposed her own plan, which includes up to $20 million in cuts.

District 1 councilmember Dan Kalb said that while he’s open to the idea of redirecting funds from OPD, the police department's budget was already dramatically reduced during the last recession.

The council has until June 30 to approve any proposed changes to the budget.

Imran Ali Malik was a fellow in KALW's Audio Academy class of 2020. His reporting interests are design, economy, and telling stories of invisible structures and forgotten histories.