Mayor Kevin Johnson wants the city to save police jobs. But he doesn't know how to make that happen.
Hours before the City Council was scheduled to embark on intense budget negotiations, the mayor told reporters this morning that his "focus is that we do not reduce the sworn officers" on the police department. The city manager's office has proposed laying off 80 officers, a plan that will be debated tonight as the council addresses a citywide $39 million deficit.
"I think the primary role of government is to make sure our streets are safe and secure," Johnson said. "It's fundamental to how we operate."
The council is also scheduled to deliberate on proposed cuts to the fire and parks departments.
The mayor said behind the scenes work was being done to help save the cop jobs, but he wouldn't provide details on what has been discussed. He said both the police union and city management would need to contribute to any plan to save police jobs.
"How we get there and if we can get there, I don't have that answer," the mayor said, adding he was "holding out hope there is a way to create that environment where we can keep the sworn officers that we have."
I've received many calls and emails on both sides of this argument, with some saying public safety should be protected and others calling for deep cuts to the city workforce.
One woman, Albyena Newberry, called me on Monday to argue for the police department.
Newberry, a single mother of six living in South Natomas, said the windows of her car were shot out on Memorial Day weekend. She called the police, but was told no officer would respond due to staffing restrictions.
"We have no proactive police community anymore," she said. "There was nobody who could help me. We need to reinforce the police with as much manpower as we can."