California police chief warns $18 million budget cut leaves the city less safe

Apparent Long Island serial killer remains unknown after more than a decade

Fox News’ Laura Ingle reports from Oak Beach, New York, as a state senator says he’s pressing investigators for more information on the status of the case.

The top cop in Oakland, Calif., warned Monday of fewer police officers and slower response times ahead of a new city budget that will divert $18 million from the police department amid a surge in gun violence and following a bloody weekend that saw four people killed. 

In a news conference, a sometimes emotional police Chief LeRonne Armstrong asked city leaders to put “politics aside” and lives “before political agendas” as he addressed reporters. He warned of fewer police officers and slower responses to emergency calls, particularly in marginalized neighborhoods, at a time when authorities are already having a tough time responding to calls for service. 

“Far too often in these meetings we are talking about numbers. We are talking about money and costs,” he said. “I don’t know what the cost of a life is. But I know not having resources makes our city less safe.”

Oakland police officers work the scene of a June 19 shooting. A 22-year-old man was killed and five others were wounded in a shooting in Oakland near the city’s Juneteenth celebration, though it wasn’t known whether the violence was connected with the event, police said. (Dylan Bouscher/Bay Area News Group)

In a 6-2 vote last week, the Oakland City Council approved the two-year, $3.8 billion budget which will shape how the city funds various services, including policing, fire response, youth and grant programs and other projects. The budget goes into effect Thursday. 

Activists and supporters of slashing police budgets have argued that the city needs to invest in violence prevention and other programs to deter juveniles from turning to crime. 

“This is square one,” Councilwoman Sheng Thao said during the meeting, the East Bay Times reported. “We have to start somewhere. How do we make our community more safe?”

Fox News has reached to council members and the Oakland Police Officers Association but has not heard back. 

The new budget actually increases the police department’s spending by $9 million from $665 million to about $674 million, according to the newspaper, citing a staff report. However, the police department’s share of the budget will now be 18% instead of 20%, it said. 

The city experienced 65 murders this year, a 90% increase from the same time frame last year, Armstrong said. Shootings increased by more than 70% and carjackings were up nearly 88%, he said. Robberies are also up 11%, he said. 

The four most recent homicides occurred over a three-day period starting Friday. Officers have recovered 508 firearms so far this year, the department said. 

“So we see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland and our response was for less police resources,” Armstrong said. 

“It’s easy to sit in a room and have a discussion as to what public safety looks like,” he added. “It looks much different when you’re out in the community and meeting with the families. It’s much different when you hear families demand a stronger police response to shootings. It’s easier when you don’t talk to senior citizens and hear them tell you that they can’t sleep at night, because of all the shootings.”

Among the cuts from the new budget will be two police academy classes – bring the total number of classes to four for a two-year period. Mayor Libby Schaaf opposed the budget approval, warning that the city could lose as many as 50 police officers position at a time when violence is increasing. 

Among the cuts from the new budget will be two police academy classes – bring the total number of classes annually to four. Mayor Libby Schaaf opposed the budget move, warning that the city could lose as many as 50 police officers position at a time when violence is increasing. 

The city currently has 714 officers, the chief said. Armstrong said Schaaf’s budget proposal was designed to “preserve public safety for the entire city.” 

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