(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Breed, Walton vow to redirect Police Department funding to support black communities

Mayor to introduce proposed two-year city budget on Aug. 1

While no dollar amount was given, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced a plan Thursday to redirect some funding from the Police Department’s budget in the upcoming fiscal year to support needs in black communities.

The two jointly announced “a plan to prioritize the redirection of resources from the San Francisco Police Department to support the African-American community in the upcoming budget.”

It begins with “a collaborative process with the community in partnership with the Human Rights Commission to help identify and prioritize funding needs,” according to the announcement.

The announcement comes as Breed must submit a two-year city budget by Aug. 1 and close a $1.5 billion deficit. It also comes after nationwide demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have called for a reduction in spending on Police Departments to increase spending on services.

In Breed’s budget submission last year, the Police Department’s budget of $629.8 million in fiscal year 2018-2019 grew to $695.7 million, a $65.9 million increase. After some cuts to the proposal by the Board of Supervisors, the budget was adopted with a police budget of $692.3 million for the current fiscal year.

“Reforms to any single system, such as the criminal justice system or the police department, must go hand-in-hand with closing the gaps and ending the disparities that we know exist,” Breed said in a statement. “By bringing the community into the process of making these decisions, we can ensure that those who have been voiceless in the past now have a seat at the table as we make decisions that will impact their community.”

Supervisor Shamann Walton told the San Francisco Examiner that he does not have an “amount today” for what he wishes to redirect.

“There is work to do in looking at the budget and where we can redirect resources,” he said.

In a statement, Walton said that: “In these times of continued systemic and systematic oppression of Black people, we have to be innovative and strong with our solutions.”

“In order to change this dynamic and provide real opportunity for equity, we need to repurpose resources and give them to Black-led organizations and communities in order to level the playing field and achieve successful outcomes,” he said.

San Francisco is not the first city to consider cuts to the police budget in the wake of protests. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed cutting $100 to $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget.

The announcement directed those who wish to participate in the open meetings to discuss reinvestment in the African-American community through the Human Rights Commission to email HRC-Roundtable@sfgov.org for an invitation.

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