Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says the city will not pursue disbanding or defunding the police force, as Minneapolis is looking to do, but is interested in finding ways to limit the number of 911 calls that officers need to respond to.
"I don't want to even think in those terms about disbanding the police department," he said on CapRadio's Insight with Beth Ruyak on Monday. "I understand the sentiment. I understand the impetus. I understand the defund movement. But maybe there is a bold but more healing conversation to be had."
On Sunday, members of the Minneapolis City Council announced they had veto-proof support for "dismantling" the city's police department following the May 25 death of Geogre Floyd, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
During the nationwide protests that have launched since Floyd's death, many demonstrators have called for defunding police departments.
Steinberg instead suggested triaging 911 calls so police officers are not involved in situations that don't require a law enforcement presence.
"Why is it when a family is in crisis or an individual family member in crisis, is the only recourse in society is to call 911 and to have the police respond?," Steinberg said. "We put our officers in situations that they are frankly not adequately trained for, that put them in dangerous positions, and because they have weapons, put other people in dangerous situations."
Instead of having a police officer respond to calls for mental health support, he proposed that intervention workers, social workers or other individuals trained for more specific situations be dispatched.
"That's the debate and the question that needs to be had there," he said. "And does that then result in money flowing towards alternative ways to address very difficult situations in the community? It could, but we ought not to start with the money conversation. That's just too easy, right?"
Steinberg also discussed the protest near his home Friday, where hundreds of demonstrators staged a "die-in."
"I thought it was beautiful. I thought it sent that message in a very, very profound way," Steinberg said. "I would call it one of the more impactful evenings of my entire career."
Correction: We have corrected Mayor Darrell Steinberg's comment on options for families in crisis, as it was incorrectly transcribed. The full quote is:
"Why is it when a family is in crisis or an individual family member in crisis, is the only recourse in society is to call 911 and to have the police respond? We put our officers in situations that they are frankly not adequately trained for, that put them in dangerous positions, and because they have weapons, put other people in dangerous situations."
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.