Johnson Unveils Public Safety Plan; Fargo Calls For Debate

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Johnson says his number one priority as mayor would be to fight crime. That includes getting tough on gang violence.

"Clearly, the hands off approach in our current administration, has not worked."

His plan includes bringingtogether Sacramento police, sheriff’s and prosecutors to create a gang task force. Johnson also wants to work with schools on gang prevention programs.

And he wants to beef up the police force…despite the city’s 58-Million dollar budget shortfall. Johnson says the city should not be implementing the 20% across-the-board cuts to every department that are the starting point for the upcoming budget debate.

"But instead need to look strategically at what costs can be trimmed without impacting the number of sworn officers on our street." 

He says one cost-effective approach would be to hire civilians to help police do things like background checks.

"They can do some of the administrative work that we’re having our sworn officers do today."

He says that would let the department shift those cops to the streets.

And Johnson says he’d even consider a public safety tax.

"I would be very open to the dialogue on that assessment. I think again right now I want to be very careful in looking at how we can streamline our budget."

"I’ve heard him say that he doesn’t want any new taxes for public safety and I’ve heard him say that he’ll push for a public safety tax. I don’t know where he is on that issue."

That's Johnson’s main opponent…Mayor Heather Fargo.  She says she’s already implemented some of the anti-crime initiatives Johnson is proposing…like gang prevention programs in schools.

"But I think a public discussion would be a really appropriate thing for us to do."

And she's calling on Johnson to debate her on public safety and more - multiple times between now and an election less than two months away.  She says she'll debate anytime, any place and answer any question. 

Johnson says his staff is reaching out to Fargo’s campaign to negotiate a debate plan.

But time is running out. Absentee ballots for the June 3rd mayoral election are set to be mailed out in less than a month.