State Budget Revision Boosts Oakland's Funding for Community Responders

A state budget amendment would give a $10 million boost to Oakland's new community responders program, a non-police approach to calls from the community for incidents that are not violent and not felonies.

The budget amendment comes from state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and was announced Saturday in a news release issued by the office of Nikki Fortunato, president of the Oakland City Council.

The program -- Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland -- already has $6.5 million in city funding Fortunato said the council redirected from policing last week. The boost from the state is dependent upon the budget being signed by the governor after approval by the state legislature, which is expected to vote on the budget this week.

Fortunato and Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland's vice mayor, thanked Skinner for her efforts. "In Oakland, we understand the urgent need to improve access to mental health services for non-violent crisis calls, rather than criminalizing community members who already find themselves in a vulnerable state," Kaplan said.

It will be launched as an internal program within the Oakland Fire Department, Kaplan said, preferably with non-sworn staff from the city's most impacted communities and initially focusing on East Oakland.

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