Calls to defund the police are growing louder and louder in Oakland. On Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council voted to cut some funding from the Oakland Police Department but critics say chipping away at OPD’s budget is not enough and they’re calling on the city to do more.
The Oakland Unified School Board was discussing how to keep their schools safe Wednesday, without the help of 10 armed police officers. Now the question is, what is the alternate safety plan that administrators, teachers and parents can all agree on?
“Kids in school getting slammed by police officers. Slammed through the desk. Police officers put them in a chokehold. You don’t learn from that. You don’t grow from that,” said Isaiah Henry from Oakland.
California Superintendent Tony Thurmond weighed in Wednesday.
“I’ve already seen data that shows in many cases when there are police on campus, this results in more suspensions, arrests of our students, particularly African-American students,” he said.
Thurmond created a task force in charge of figuring out the future of public safety on school campuses – and whether police officers should remain a part of it.
“We need to set clear standards that a police officer should never be the dean of students or be the disciplinarian for student behavior,” he said.
At Tuesday’s Oakland City Council meeting, the council voted to redirect millions of taxpayer dollars that would normally go to Oakland police, including saving $2.5 million dollars by rescheduling the police academy.
The council also decided to pump more money into a program, which has unarmed mental health specialists respond to mental health calls.
“We were working on this before it was in the headlines this year,” said Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan.
Kaplan said the council also voted to take back $8 million from police overtime spending.
“They have spent tens of millions more on police that were never budgeted and never approved,” said Kaplan.