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Council President Georgette Gómez explored a last-minute cut to SDPD spending ahead of Monday’s budget vote, but abandoned it when Mayor Kevin Faulconer told her he would veto the move and she recognized she didn’t have enough votes to override the veto.
In an interview Thursday, Gómez told us she could not deliver the six votes to cut police spending over the mayor’s objection, despite the Council’s Democratic supermajority.
“The mayor expressed that if we were to touch the budget on (the police department), he would have vetoed our budget,” Gómez said. “I had that conversation with him, and it was pretty clear… so I knew that I needed to have six Council members to override that veto. I didn’t have that.”
The budget standoff has marked a dramatic and sudden transformation in City Hall’s conversation around criminal justice reform. No one on the Council, including Gómez, suggested cutting SDPD spending in their budget priority memos earlier this year. Now, even the officials most identified as criminal justice reformers are coming under criticism for being insufficiently committed to the cause, because they did not support a call from hundreds of activists Monday night to reduce SDPD’s budget by $100 million.
But even if Gómez had the votes, she also said she and Councilwoman Monica Montgomery couldn’t craft a plan to cut SDPD spending on such short notice, fearing that many potential cuts would have required negotiations with the police union.
She also declined to say she viewed reduced SDPD funding as a policy priority, in and of itself.
“I’ve been calling for restructuring since the beginning,” Gómez said. “So I think that really is a conversation that we need to have. Does that lead to less money? That’s a possibility. But we need to look at it.”
Audit Debunks Long-Standing, Bipartisan Consensus on Police Spending
A recent city audit debunks a long-standing claim from city officials that the San Diego Police Department was for years losing officers at an alarming rate. The narrative led to more taxpayer investments and exemptions for officers from pay freezes.
The new report instead shows that the quit rate among sworn police officers was much lower than portrayed — 3.2 percent of sworn SDPD officers quit on average each year between 2015 and 2019 and only 1.2 percent left to join another law enforcement agency. Previous figures from city officials showed turnover rates as high as 8 percent.
The auditor also criticized the city’s Human Resources Department for not providing more context while going before the public and successfully advocating for increased officer pay, reports Jesse Marx. Depending on their years of service, police officers received 25 to 30 percent raises.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office defended the pay raises by noting that the focus in 2017 was not just on the retention of police officers. It was also on retirements and a lack of new hires.
More Police News? You Got it.
In a Union-Tribune op-ed, Jerry Sanders, who’s CEO of the regional Chamber of Commerce and a former police chief and mayor, said in an op-ed that policing requires wholesale changes to address systemic racism, and wrote “I must take responsibility for not more closely monitoring and focusing on the Police Department’s policing tactics when I was mayor.”
Sanders condemns pretext stops and stop and frisk, two tactics that are overwhelmingly used against black residents.
In Other (Still Police) News
- Law enforcement agencies will no longer be participating in San Diego’s Pride parade. (Union-Tribune)
- KPBS released part two in its series on police use of force cases in San Diego County. Reporter Claire Trageser dove into officer training and calls for reform.
- The San Diego County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association adopted a set of strategies Thursday designed to de-escalate confrontational law enforcement situations. (City News Service)
The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Megan Wood and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.