The Oakland City Council recently approved the city’s mid-cycle budget, which goes into effect tomorrow. Though it fell short of calls to defund the Oakland Police Department, it did move roughly 3% of OPD’s budget, $14.3 million, to alternative safety measures.
One such program is the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland, or MACRO. This pilot program will provide unarmed civilian responders and EMTs to handle non-emergency 911 calls. It will launch in East Oakland and be coordinated by the city’s Department of Violence Prevention. Council members allocated $1.85 million for the program.
Although its launch coincides with the recent momentum of the movement addressing police violence, MACRO has been under consideration for over a year. The idea is based in part on the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets or CAHOOTS program －a thirty-one-year-old mobile crisis-intervention program in Eugene, Oregon. Oakland’s program will build on the CAHOOTS model to reflect the city’s unique communities, challenges, and resources.
In Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguín proposed cutting his city’s police budget by roughly 12% or $9.2 million dollars. Funds would be redirected to a variety of community programs. The city council will vote on the proposed budget later this evening.