City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

May 18, 2011
Advocates worry police cuts would damage downtown progress

The Sacramento City Council doesn't like what's being proposed for the police department budget. That much was evident during a tense Tuesday night budget hearing.

The six councilmembers who showed up for the meeting took a vote not to accept a budget proposal that would lay off 80 cops and slash dozens more crime scene and clerical positions from the department. That vote doesn't mean much, however, considering there isn't an alternate proposal on the table and the final budget won't be approved until next month.

But one proposed cut that many think will be restored is the plan to eliminate the bike and foot patrol officers from the streets of downtown - an area City Hall has poured millions of dollars in subsidies into over the past few years.

Downtown interests warned City Hall that cutting those patrols could reverse progress made along the K Street Mall.

Downtown is still fighting a perception that it is not safe. How important is it to you that police activity be maintained in an area where millions of dollars in public money has been invested?

Bike officers are "an integral part of the safety of what goes on down on K street, they're part of the revitalization of K street," Randall Selland, whose family owns Ella Dining Room & Bar, told the City Council on Tuesday.

"If you take away the bike patrol, you might as well kiss the J-K-L (streets) corridor goodbye," he said. "One major incident down there because there isn't a major police presence and you might as well kiss my business and everyone else's away."

Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, noted the council has a difficult balancing act ahead of it as it tries to fill a $39 million deficit. But, he said, downtown "would take a huge hit" if police presence was scaled back in the area.

"If there is not a feeling that the area is safe, it will impact the community," he said.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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