BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The City of Bakersfield is preparing to finalize the budget for next year, but a local movement is demanding the City Council redirect funds from the police department and invest the money in underserved communities.
In less than one week, the Bakersfield City Council is set to vote on a $628 million proposed budget. Of that, close to $120 million is set to go toward the Bakersfield Police Department — a 10 percent increase from the previous year. The increase is due, in large part, to new funding from Measure N.
If the budget is approved, the department is expected to add 44 positions over the next year, including an additional 29 sworn officers, and 15 civilian officers.
Now, the People’s Budget Bako movement is calling for the City Council to take some of that money from the police department and instead invest it in other parts of the community.
“Budgets are moral documents. Where you spend your money tells you where our morals are,” said local community organizer Daulton Jones.
“Over 40 percent of our general fund is spent on policing. But we’ve been in a housing crisis. We’re looking at a worse housing crisis coming. We’re not seeing a lot of money going to our schools, to infrastructure…to places where the community stated they would the money spent.”
“But we keep seeing a lot of people — Black people and Brown people and disenfranchised folks — what they don’t want money going to is getting the bolk of the funds.”
Jones stressed the importance of insuring the funds go to underserved communities
“If we look at the historically-black neighborhood called MLK — also called Lakeview the Mayflower District — one of the biggest sources of investment in that is to surveil them and police them; it isn’t to fix the roads with potholes, the sidewalks, parks, cemeteries, dilapidated buildings and vacant lots…We need money going to that neighborhood to change that.”
BPD released the following statement:
“The proposed fy2020/21 budget was based on our community’s priorities as outlined in the public safety and vital services measure. The proposed budget also provides resources necessary to further implement the principles of community oriented policing; problem solving and building community trust and partnerships.”
The council is set to take up the proposed budget on June 24 at 5:15 p.m. In-person seating will be limited to adhere to social distancing, but anyone wishing to participate is asked to email or call the city clerk at 661-326-3767.