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$100k for Snitching ahem...Crime Alert

Thanks to the homie Dr. Corrine McIntosh Sako, PsyD LMFT for sending notes on this item at the 4/6 Board of Supervisors Meeting

On April 6th the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors held a meeting where they discussed, among other things, the Crime Alert Program. Let’s jump in!

What is the Crime Alert Program?

Snitching, basically. The Crime Alert Program purports to encourage the community to assist law enforcement in the “fight against crime” by providing a mechanism for the public to advise law enforcement agencies of criminal activity they have witnessed. Alert tips can be shared via phone, email, and internet which are then logged and shared with law enforcement agencies and/or specialized task forces for follow-up. Think of “Crimestoppers.”

What happened?

This agenda item was requested by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office (SSO) in order to request a commitment to its budget of almost $100,000, to be used over the next three years. These funds will be used to pay for an on-call deputy sheriff to be assigned to the Crime Alert program and work 20 hours per week.

Since June 2012, the Sac Sheriff’s Office and Sac PD have had a shared cost agreement for the Crime Alert Program, which was staffed by a retired reserve police officer that was employed by Sac PD. The most recent agreement expired at the end of 2020 due to Sac PD changing its policy that allowed for the employment of paid retired annuitants - basically, this cop was collecting his pension AND a paycheck. Also, as of 12/31/2020, Sac PD elected to no longer administer this program. Never missing an opportunity to fatten their budget, Sac Sheriff’s Office wants to become the administer of the program & continue to share the cost of the Deputy position at the rate of $63.49 an hour. Sac Sheriff and Sac Police will share the cost, each agency paying for ten hours a week in support of the deputy assigned to this program. This would be included in the Sac Sheriff’s requested budget for fiscal year 2021-22.

This agenda item was categorized on the Consent Calendar, along with 34 other agenda items. It was not taken off the consent calendar for discussion; thus, it was approved with one motion by all five Supervisors voting in agreement.

In Sum: Nearly $100,000 was committed to the Sac Sheriff budget, without even a question.

Why is this important for social justice? Are there important next steps on this issue? What should SJPC readers do?

The Crime Alert Program assumes that it will decrease opportunities for “criminals” to commit crime (rather than attempting to change behavior or motivation, or provide services so that a person doesn’t have to resort to behavior that is deemed “criminal” for survival) by involving the public and encouraging them to snitch on their neighbor.

What it actually does is positively reinforce individuals to act on their implicit biases that then contributes to the overpolicing of community members.

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