The Sacramento City Council approved $2 million in federal funding to increase the number of police officers in the city. The grant would help supply funds for 15 new police officers amid high crime rates. However, the approval of the grant and future hiring of more officers did not come without heated debate at Tuesday night's council meeting. New Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester says the request for more officers comes amid an uptick in violent crime. Lester believes the new officers would help the department on the prevention, intervention and mitigation of rising crime rates and gun violence.
Meanwhile, opponents to the funding, like Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, argues the spike in criminal activity has to with greater social issues from drug and alcohol abuse to the lack of mental health services or youth support. Some also say the funding now helps get new officers hired but keeping them employed will cost the city millions more in the long run because accepting the grant also requires the city to provide matching money. The council approved the funding in a 7-to-2 split vote. The Sacramento Police Department has about two dozen vacant positions, and is looking to fill those jobs first before hiring new officers.