Richmond police face possible 'devastating' budget cut of $10 million

Police Chief Bisa French is fighting to keep the force intact.

But the Richmond Reimagining Public Safety task, whose members are appointed by the city council, says the money is better spent on programs that prevent crime.

While a KTVU crew interviewed French, officers were dispatched to two shootings. Police say it is an example of why the department cannot afford a budget cut.

 On Tuesday afternoon, responded to two shootings in less than five minutes.

One man was shot in the back while he was in his car and taken to the hospital.

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Police say with a minimum of nine officers on patrol during every shift, they are stretched thin.

"The biggest complaint I get is response time," says French as her department is facing a proposal by the task force to cut $10.3 million dollars from the police budget.

"It's going to be devastating. We would lose 35 police officer positions," French said.

That means 23 officers would lose their jobs and 12 vacant positions would not be filled.

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"Do we want officers or do we want our community to have programs in place so we can rely less on police?" asks Randy Joseph, a member of the task force.

He says the money should be spent to prevent crime by increasing funding for programs that help youth, people who are homeless, and those suffering from mental health issues

"This is not an attack on police," says Joseph. "This is to make sure our community has jobs, has housing."

 "I don't agree with defunding the police department  to fund these services. I think there are plenty of other funding sources," says French. 

Currently, 40% of Richmond's budget goes to policing. Some say that's low compared to Antioch: where policing accounted for 62%. Both cities have a comparable population of around 110,00 people.

"It makes no sense that we're the fourth highest in the nation in police spending per person," says Joseph. .

French says it took years to build a foundation for making Richmond safer, 

"You see a successful model," she said. "Now, they're taking everything away."

 The city manager has proposed cutting  $2.3 million dollars from the police budget, that's $7 million less than what the task force is asking

 The city council is scheduled to vote on the budget June 22.