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.
All in all, the study gave 3 major recommendations to the Measure U Community Advisory Committee and the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission:
Background information regarding the Sacramento police budget was relatively challenging to find. Making this information more transparent with accompanying educational materials would allow the community to better understand resources devoted to policing compared to other expenditures.
Public deliberation that includes an educational component, structured choices, and neutral facilitation can elicit community values and preferences to be factored into police reform decisions. It is especially important to reach out to communities/people who are disproportionately impacted by policing.
In general, substantial reforms are desired, with a recognition that they may be implemented in a stepwise fashion, taking into consideration broader community readiness and over an expanded time frame (beyond 1-3 years).
But Let’s Talk About Them Dollars...
In preparation for this joint meeting, the Measure U Advisory Committee and the Police Review Commission submitted questions to Sacramento Police regarding how they are spending their Measure U dollars, what metrics they use to measure outcomes, and if they are reaching their measurable outcomes. It appears this was too big of an ask for Sac PD cuz they didn’t have the answers. Their submitted answers looked a little something like this:
Joint Commissions: What (in detail) did you spend the Measure U funds on last year FY20/21?
Sac PD: FY2020/21 Year End activities will not be completed until August, once all eligible invoices and labor transactions have been posted. However, expenses were incurred for approved programs/projects. The City will begin distributing final FY 2020/21 results in September 2021.
Joint Commissions: What is the cost per person served? What is the cost per capita?
Sac PD: These numbers are difficult to calculate as there are many people who visit, work, and travel to Sacramento on a given day.
Joint Commissions: In lay terms, what was the program outcomes and human impact of the expenditures?
Sac PD: The Department has been able to restore positions lost during the last economic recession through Measure U to serve its community. It has been extremely helpful in rebuilding the organization, even if it is not at pre-recession levels. Professional staffing is still 26% less and sworn staffing is 6% less than it was at its peak in FY2007/08, while the population has increased 11%.
Joint Commissions: What (in detail) do you plan to spend the Measure U funds on in FY 21/22?
Sac PD: The Police Department’s FY2021/22 Measure U budget totals $5.67 million and will be used to fund the Hiring Pipeline Program. It will support 63.5 FTE positions.
Sac PD FAILS to show up to the meeting, FAILS to give a best estimate for how they spent their Measure U funds for FY 20/21, FAILS to approximate the cost per person served and cost per capita, and FAILS to acknowledge human impact as it pertains to Sacramento community members.
Sac PD changes their ask from $45milli to $5milli ‘cause they know they’re being watched. What do they plan to use that $5milli for? A Hiring Pipeline. Think School-to-Prison Pipeline, only this pipeline is School-to-Police Force where it proposes to create a pathway for young adults from both the Criminal Justice Magnet Academy and Cadet Programs into careers in law enforcement. Sac PD loves their stat that of the 577 students in the Criminal Justice Magnet Academy and Cadet Programs, approximately 88% are racially diverse and 54% are female and because of this, they conclude that the program has been successful in recruiting and retaining diverse candidates. How does the Department having more diverse employees in entry level positions that will/should eventually move into career/full-time positions help fulfill the stated mission of Sac PD? And where is the data that supports that this Hiring Pipeline is indeed needed? Inquiring minds want to know…
Dawn Holm, the city’s Finance Director, stated that because the City has a $1.3 billion dollar budget they do not provide a breakdown by dollar amount program by program. They have all the data, they just don’t publish it. After being questioned by Police Review Commissioner Bliss, she agreed to work with the City Manager’s office in order to give a breakdown of the dollars for the Police department by position, classification, and program.
Where We Goin From Here?
The Measure U Advisory Committee and the Police Review Commission, along with community members, all expressed their concerns that the allocation of the Measure U funds do not reflect the values of our community. Sac PD does little to measure the per-capita cost and human impact of their programs on the well-being of community members. There is a clear need for the creation of a Measure U and Community Police Commission task force to monitor these budgets and outcomes. The members of this meeting will go back to their respective bodies to discuss and strategize next steps, and it was stated that they will likely come back together before the end of the year. Stay tuned!