Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf suggested on Tuesday that police officers should be replaced by public employees who can respond to traumatic scenes and other situations she described as unrelated to law enforcement.
“We are excited, as many cities are, to reimagine public safety,” Schaaf said during a call with three other mayors and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., “and that means not just to reform the police, but to replace the police with more trauma-informed and care-based, community-led responses that really don’t warrant a badge and a gun.”
Protesters across America have demanded local governments “defund the police” in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
It’s unclear what any reform will ultimately look like as Bass, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and others have pushed back on more radical proposals. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who participated in Tuesday’s call, have pushed for cuts to police budgets with the funds being transferred to community-based programs.
“We have a full Department of Violence Prevention led by a social worker but who carries the exact same title — chief — of equal stature to our police chief …” Schaaf said.
“And these are community-based medics and clinicians that respond to mental health and other appropriate, non-law-enforcement-type needs,” she added. “To have a different kind of response to send out to these 911 calls is something that I believe we all are going to migrate to, and even faster because of the current demand from our communities.”
According to the East Bay Times, Oakland has hired former social worker Guillermo Cespedes to lead the Department of Violence Prevention with an annual salary of $213,418.92. The Times reported that Cespedes’ top goal was to better coordinate police, the school district, and other entities in addressing violence.
Schaaf previously caught headlines in Febaruy 2018 after she announced an impending raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to ICE, 150 people were arrested for violating U.S. immigration laws in the San Francisco Bay Area, but nearly 900 illegal immigrants remained “at large in the community” as they couldn’t be arrested.
Fox News’ Luke Mikelionis contributed to this report.