Both shootings involved guns and multiple victims, with violence breaking out as the neighborhood’s nightclubs were closing.
After the first shooting in April, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg encouraged people to continue visiting downtown but suggested that perhaps it wasn’t safe to stay there until 2 a.m.
Steinberg and other lawmakers then sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for nearly $3 billion to help fix the violence problem from a mental health perspective.
Steinberg joined CapRadio Host Randol White to discuss the safety of Sacramento’s downtown.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On what Steinberg would say to a person who is afraid to go downtown
Well, I would say both of these tragic incidents occurred at 2:00 in the morning, first of all.
And I would say that this gun violence epidemic is not exclusive in any way to Sacramento. It is a national crisis, so I would say always be cautious about your surroundings, but continue to live and continue to enjoy all the good things about the downtown.
Now, I got into a little hot water last time when I suggested maybe that people shouldn’t be out until two in the morning.
I understand that we have a robust club scene and nightlife, and so I don’t want us to go backwards on any front.
On discussing safety with businesses in downtown
I think it’s important to recognize that since the April incident, we have increased our law enforcement presence downtown.
The police chief has changed the shifts, so that bike units are out there until 3:00 a.m. We have new cameras that have been installed in downtown and many more to come.
This is about Sacramento, but it’s also about the country — an epidemic of gun violence. Too many damn guns on the streets.
California [is] leading the way in terms of responsible gun regulation, and yet there’s such an underground market of these firearms and these assault weapons that it is difficult to keep up.
We haven’t yet figured out how we are going to get massive amounts of firearms off the streets, but we cannot give up, and we have to keep trying and we have to keep living.
On funding for mental health programs for formerly incarcerated people
So thanks to the governor and the Legislature and the Mental Health Services Act, we have more resources than every before.
But it’s not just about the resources, it’s about the systems. We need all of our partners to really step up on the mental health front because the city does not do mental health.
We are not a health and human services agency — the county of Sacramento is.
And I’m looking forward to the new sheriff, Jim Cooper, to come in specifically on the jail release issues because that is an area where our downtown needs relief.
We cannot have people being released from jail at all hours of the day and night without any services.
I’m looking forward to working with Sheriff-elect Cooper on some new protocols that make sure that there are warm handoffs.
[The] city cannot do it alone. We are not a health and human services agency.
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