SAN DIEGO – The San Diego City Council rejected cuts to the police department budget, but it did authorize $4 million to establish and staff an office for race and equity.
The council voted 8-1 Monday to adopt a city budget that includes a $27 million increase in the police budget. It’s not what the hundreds of people who called in during public comment at city council had hoped for Monday night. Many were pushing for defunding of the San Diego Police Department.
But the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party told FOX 5 Tuesday that the new office for race and equity can play an important role in policing the police.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” part chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy said. “We can have someone that is there to point out this policy disproportionally effects brown and black people or this policy doesn’t actually work for communities of color. If you don’t have someone looking at that, then it’s very easy to miss how some of the systems we’ve built up are racist.”
Rodriguez-Kennedy said police are often sent to deal with people they aren’t trained to work with.
“For example, police officers shouldn’t be handling a mental health call or the homeless,” he said.
“Social workers and medical workers should be doing that, and by shifting that to other professionals, we can reduce that budget. In other words, defunding (the police),” Rodriquez-Kennedy said.
While the council voted Monday to extend the police budget with additional funding for 2021, some council members voiced support for a ballot measure calling for police reforms. That proposal could come up for a vote later this month.