Updated: Jan 20
The Measure U Community Advisory Committee and the Police Review Commission Team Up for their 1st (and Certainly Not Last) Joint Meeting
By Dr. Corrine
Scroll to the end for a video recap!
On Monday July 19, 2021, the Measure U Community Advisory Committee and the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission held their 1st ever joint meeting. This fantastic duo came together to discuss their areas of overlap and how they can make recommendations together regarding policies, practice, and programs that also have budgetary impact, and where Measure U funds being spent have financial efficiency.
Translation: show us how you spend our money, Chief Hahn...and you better have results or you ain’t gonna get paid!
Hol’ Up - Measure U who?
The Measure U Advisory Committee is the oversight body for the 1cent sales & use tax levied on all purchases related to the City of Sacramento. The funds generated from this tax is supposed to be used to “restore essential City services that had been cut or scaled back since 2008, including those provided by Sacramento fire, police, parks and libraries.” Measure U is a general tax, and the revenue it produces goes in the City’s General Fund and can be used for any municipal purpose. Mayor Darrell Steinberg and members of the Sacramento City Council have said new Measure U funds could be used to build and bolster an inclusive economy, grow jobs and provide housing that is affordable to all. The Measure U tax was originally a ½-cent sales tax when first approved in 2012 and was increased to a full cent in 2019, which currently generates on average $100 million per year. Nearly half of the funds generated by the Measure U sales tax have gone to the Sacramento Police Department since its implementation. Currently, $45-47 million of the $100 million from Measure U goes to Sac PD. Since Sac PD gets so much of the funds, it’s only right we call in the Police Review Commission.
You down with the PRC? Yeah you know me!
The Sacramento Community Police Review Commission was formed in 2016 and is composed of community members appointed by City Councilmembers and the Mayor. The
Police Review Commission was “established to provide community participation in reviewing and recommending police department policies, practices, and procedures, and to monitor the implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of city policing initiatives and programs.” The Police Review Commission has made recommendations on policy changes to Sac PD since it was formed; however, their recommendations were not even considered by City Council until just a few months ago when Councilmember Valenzuela pushed for the Council to consider the Commission’s recommendation for Sac PD to change the language in their use of force policy to include “police officers can use deadly force only as a last resort,” which was adopted.
So what went down?
For the first few minutes, it wasn’t clear if a quorum was present in order for the meeting to commence. After it was established that a majority of members from each committee were present, the meeting got started.
There was a BIG absence, though. Yes, we missed Dr. Flojaune Cofer, the Chair of the Measure U Community Advisory Committee, and Vice Chair Kim Williams did a wonderful job facilitating the meeting in Flo’s absence...but the peep that was missing from this meeting was Sac PD!
Sac PD’s official statement:
“The department will not attend this joint meeting because there has been a substantial shift in the amount of Measure U funding for the Fiscal Year 2021/22 approved budget, which will be published within the next few months, compared to the 21/22 proposed budget. They have provided written responses to your questions in the Item 1 staff report and look forward to reviewing any future recommendations.”
The substantial shift they reference is a significant decrease in Measure U funding from the last two years. In FY 2019/20, their budget was $45.2 million and in FY 2020/21 their budget was $45.7 million. Sac PD’s FY2021/22 Measure U budget totals $5.67 million and so they threw a tantrum and didn’t show up to the meeting.
Something about transparency, accountability, and building community trust really repels them.
First matter of business was the presentation of key findings from a public deliberation study to elicit community views on police reforms, aka how to bring the public’s informed voice to policy. The Center for Health Decision at the University of California, Davis developed this research study, and they had a little bit of funding from Blue Shield of California Foundation to do some of the background research used.
Did you know that...
Sacramento devotes over 26% of its unrestricted tax revenue to the police department, the largest of any department (lower percentages of the revenue are allocated to public works, and youth/parks/ community enrichment)
Sacramento allocates about 50% of Measure U funds (unrestricted sales tax revenue) to the police, and
a 2% decrease in police funding could allow for the hiring of 73 behavioral health peer specialists, or 63 paramedics, or 60 mental health workers
That’s what Ms. Patricia Powers, Chief Consultant for UC Davis’ Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, and Dr. Shani Buggs, researcher for UC Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program, let us know. They also explained how they collected data from participants in three communities (Boyle Heights in SoCal, Davis, and good ol’ Sactown) to measure what police reforms they thought their community (versus themselves as individuals) sees as most acceptable within the next 1-3 years, taking into account the unique circumstances of their local community. For folx here in Sac, participants were recruited from outreach done through Public Health Advocates, as well as postings on Facebook pages.
The results told us what we been knowing & demanding!
Results showed that a majority of respondents voted for significant changes to current policing.
In fact, 38% of Sac participants voted to reduce policing by shifting responsibility for nonviolent responses to other responders and another 38% voted to replace/re-imagine policing with other systems of community safety or justice.
Trust and trainings were key themes in the participants’ narratives. They thought that reforms could strengthen trust between police and communities, especially those that are marginalized. And although they know training by itself is insufficient for widespread change, they wanted to see the police have more trainings that could improve community relations. In fact, 98% of Sactown’s participants expressed interest in taking an active role in shaping policy options for police reform in their communities.