Community Members Protest Sheriff’s Department Budget Increase, Demand Transparency and Accountability
CONTACT: Terence Long, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-936-0344
OAKLAND, CA - On Friday, June 29, community members protested outside the Alameda County Board of Supervisors building to demand an audit of Sheriff Gregory Ahern as the Supervisors prepared to vote to adopt the final 2018-2019 Alameda County Budget. As part of the protest, activists were showered with gold coins to highlight the settlements the ACSD has paid out to victims of violence by Sheriff’s deputies in recent years.
“Under Sheriff Ahern, this department has been responsible for deaths and abuse in county jails, collaborating with ICE, and many other corrupt practices,” said Sandy Valenciano of The Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, “We need to know how ACSD is spending taxpayer money and how that money could be better spent by investing back into our communities.”
During the budget hearing, Supervisor Wilma Chan (D-3) announced a plan to inventory Alameda County jail programs through the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and the Pew-Macarthur Results First Initiative. During public comment, community members pushed back on the CSAC proposal, saying a program evaluation is not enough.
“We need a complete and comprehensive independent audit that looks at how all the Sheriff’s money is being used and includes questions around jail bed space, jail bed usage, classification practices and staffing policies,” said Ella Baker Center member Meghan Schwartz.
Over the past 10 years, the Alameda County jail population has decreased by 44%, yet the Alameda County Board of Supervisors has increased the Sheriff’s budget year after year, to a total of $ 423 million. The current Alameda County budget proposal increases the ACSD budget by $20 million.
“This is a law enforcement department that doesn’t reflect the values of the community it’s supposed to be serving,” said Leo Mercer of Urban Peace Movement. “The Sheriff’s Department should be held accountable, not given more money.”
Despite strong support from community members for an audit of the Sheriff that will reveal how the department is spending taxpayer dollars, improve transparency and accountability, and reveal potential savings that can be invested directly back into communities, the Board voted 3-2 to adopt the 2018-2019 Alameda County Budget.