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Largest California Cities Spent Huge Share of Federal COVID Relief Funds on Police

Largest California Cities Spent Huge Share of Federal COVID Relief Funds on Police

California’s biggest cities spent large portions of their federal Covid relief money on police departments, a review of public records has revealed, with several cities prioritizing police funding by a wider margin.

As part of the Biden administration’s signature stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the US government sent funds to cities to help them fight coronavirus and support local recovery efforts. The money, officials said, could be used to fund a range of services, including public health and housing initiatives, healthcare workers’ salaries, infrastructure investments, and aid for small businesses. But most large California cities spent millions of their ARPA funds on law enforcement. Some also gave police money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, adopted in 2020 under Donald Trump.

 

The records uncovered by the Guardian show that cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, and San Jose, among others, used a major percentage of funds on policing instead of other initiatives. For example, San Francisco received $312m in ARPA funds for the 2020 fiscal year and allocated 49% ($153m) to police, 13% ($41m) to the sheriff’s department, and the remainder to the fire department, according to the city controller. San Francisco also gave roughly 22% ($38.5m) of its CARES funds to law enforcement. In Fresno, the city allocated more than double of its CARES money to police than it did to Covid testing, contact tracing, small business grants, childcare vouchers, transitional housing, and small business grants combined. Officials from Oakland and Anaheim both said that their ARPA awards were used as “revenue replacement” for their general fund, and said it was not possible to specify where the federal money went.

Cities have explained their spending on police in a number of ways. In a report for the US government, Long Beach said police were “heavily involved in the City’s Covid-19 response”, including opening an emergency operations center and providing security at testing and vaccination sites.

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Read the full report at The Guardian.

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