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Sacramento Police, Fire Agencies Present Budget Proposals To City Council

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento Police Department presented a $132 million budget proposal and focused on diversity and dispatchers, not dollars, during Tuesday night's city council meeting.

Police Chief Sam Somers told the council that 84 percent of the time, dispatchers fail to answer 911 calls in less than 10 seconds during the busiest times of the day. Ten seconds is the industry standard.

He said he had asked for more dispatchers, among other items, "I put in a lot of requests The discussion we've had with city manager is we're going to look to the coming year to actually set up a plan to see if we can't add dispatchers at that point."

The $132 million budget is an increase of about $9 million compared to last year and includes more money for civilian forensic experts, body cameras and cameras at intersections.

"It's a growing budget," Somers said before the council meeting. "We don't have any cuts. So, we're able to add law enforcement, forensics, we're able to fix some gaps that we've had when it comes to funding the IT that we currently employ throughout our organization. We're also looking to push out additional Shot Spotter locations in the city which I think will enhance the safety that we'll provide."

The chief also told the council previously funded programs are yielding benefits in attempts to make the racial makeup of the department more closely resemble the people it serves.

Somers says the average number of female and minority cadets in the last three police department academies was more than half.

Councilmembers also focused on diversity and training when they questioned the Sacramento Fire Department.

The fire department's $109 million budget proposal is a $5.6 million increase from last year.

Fire Chief Walter White says the department has 678 authorized positions, but 83 are vacant. According to him, the department is changing the way it goes about finding qualified people to hire.

"We are now utilizing the firefighter candidate testing center," White told the council. "It is a statewide recruitment process that is provided by California Professional Firefighters and we are, as participating members in the joint apprentice committee, we are able to recruit off of that list at no cost to the city."

The council urged the department to do a better job recruiting in all Sacramento neighborhoods. Council member Rick Jennings and Mayor Kevin Johnson asked what the council should do to encourage more young people to sign up for the department's academy.

The department added four positions in this year's budget. They include a fire marshal, two employees to oversee construction projects, and one person to ensure firefighters have appropriate equipment.

The fire department responded to 83,000 calls for service in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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