Oakland mayor’s budget calls for police hiring freeze

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On Wednesday, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao disclosed her $4.2 billion budget to the city council. 

Her proposed budget calls for a reduction in positions for full-time police officers. 

No lay-offs but a hiring freeze will occur in job openings. 

“Regarding public safety from the crime, the shootings, the side shows, the robberies and so forth,” said Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo.

He said public safety is the number one priority and he has concerns with Thao’s proposed budget. 

If approved, the city will implement a hiring freeze at the Oakland Police Department. 

“Right now, what I have is close to 700 officers when I should have close to 780, so I at least want to make sure we were what we were before having 720 officers,” said Gallo.

No changes will be made to OPD’s six police academies, which is a positive in Gallo’s opinion.

Everyone’s concern about the hiring freeze varies. 

Deputy Director of the Anti-Police Terror Project James Burch has advocated for a reduction in policing for years.

“This is a step in the right direction. Tens of millions of dollars are spent every year for the Oakland police to police activities that aren’t crimes. So, those are millions of dollars that need to be spent for housing, for healthcare, for medical care, for youth services,” said Burch. 

Gallo said he understands some people argue to defund the police, but he doesn’t understand how that argument makes sense given the residents’ fear in Oakland. “I just had somebody about an hour ago complain about being robbed. (He) calls the police and nobody shows up and so those are realities we are facing,” said Gallo.

Mayor Thao presented her budget to the Oakland City Council, but it will take several weeks before it’s voted on. The budget’s approval is due on June 30. 


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.