SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Protests against police brutality have quelled, but a city that suffers from its own history of police-involved shootings is still hoping for change.
Black Lives Matter leaders are calling for the defunding of the Sacramento Police Department.
“The police department is a team of individual humans that have tools that they need to protect the cities and they abuse their power because their power is off the hook right now,” Tanya Faison with Black Lives Matter Sacramento said.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn says the department is already short more than 100 officers, and defunding isn’t possible.
“I don’t know what eliminating a police department would look like, like they’re talking about in Minneapolis. My biggest question would be who would handle all those calls that the community is calling in?“ Hahn said.
After a week and a half of protesting in California’s capital city, there are claims of violence on both sides of the blue line.
“They were there to commit violent acts. They were throwing bricks and rocks, fireballs at the officers, bottles at the officers,” Hahn said.
Faison said police “weren’t just shooting people with rubber bullets, they were aiming for people’s heads.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is against defunding the department entirely, but he admits changes need to be made, writing in a statement to CBS13, “The first thing you do is redefine what you expect of police officers. Law enforcement should enforce the law when there are crimes, but they shouldn’t be involved in every risky situation.”
The Sacramento Police Department gets more than 1,200 calls a day for help and is working to make sure the police are prepared for anything.
“My number one goal is to improve the relationship between the community and improve the trust,” Hahn said. “That’s why we spend so much time on implicit bias, that’s why we spend so much time on classes and transformational policing.”
Hahn said the department is looking into incidents that occurred over the last week and a half of protests, but say they don’t use rubber bullets. Instead, they use sponge bullets, and it’s a tool Chief Hahn says is necessary for his officers.
“If we take all the other less-lethal tools away from our officers and the only thing they’re left with is their handgun,” Hahn said.
Over the weekend, the department announced it discontinued the use of the carotid restraint hold. But local activists say it’s not enough.
“There’s been a lot of violence when we’re fighting police violence they’ve come back with more police violence,” Faison said. “Shame on you.”
As of Monday, there are no plans to pull any funding from the Sacramento Police Department.