Sacramento Police Department staff protest proposed budget cuts.

The Sacramento City Council members made it clear Tuesday night that they do not want to make the $12 million in cuts to the Police Department recommended in the proposed budget. But it’s unclear at this point how the council will lessen the cuts to the department.

A crowd of police staffers and supporters, which swelled to about 400 at its high point early Tuesday evening, turned out for the City Council’s budget hearing.

The city is grappling with a $39 million budget gap for the 2011/2012 fiscal year. A total of 149 department staffers, including 80 sworn cops, would be laid off in the proposed budget, according to police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

The city currently has 701 sworn cops.

“Twelve million (dollars) in cuts is too much for public safety to share this burden,” Councilman Darrell Fong, a retired police captain, said.

At the end of the City Council meeting, which ran longer than four hours, six City Council members voted not to move forward with the current proposed budget of $12 million in cuts proposed by Interim City Manager Bill Edgar and Interim Deputy City Manager Betty Masuoka.

The city manager’s office is responsible for proposing the amounts of budget cuts, while Police Chief Rick Braziel is responsible for divvying up how to make the proposed cuts at the department.

The City Council makes final budget decisions.

Six of the nine council members rejected the proposed budget because three were absent.

Mayor Kevin Johnson was at the NBA draft lottery in New Jersey, representing the Sacramento Kings. Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell was mourning the recent death of her mother and Councilman Rob Fong was in Los Angeles on a business trip, according to Councilman Steve Cohn.

RE Graswich, the mayor’s special assistant, presented the following statement on behalf of Johnson:

“In Sacramento, we’re in the fourth year of a devastating budget crisis and we continue to face difficult challenges. When I ran for mayor in 2008, I said public safety would be my top priority.

“That continues to remain true today,” Graswich said. “Public safety is a core function of city government. It plays a critical role in how we operate as a full-service city.

“It’s critical that as we move forward, we continue to practice fiscal responsibility, eliminate wasteful practices, capitalize on efficiencies and make collective sacrifices to provide the service our residents expect and deserve. I look forward to continuing to work with my council colleagues and finding the best solutions to solving the budget crisis.”

Greg Galliano, a 25-year-old Sacramento police officer, was one of many department staffers who urged the council not to make the cuts. He said the department is currently dealing with “massive call volumes.”

“If we take these cuts,” Galliano said, “we’re going to experience something that we’re not going to be able to protect you from.”

Leong explained the breakdown of the proposed layoffs: Sworn cops, 80; Community Service Officers, 38; Crime Scene Investigators, 14; Supervising Dispatchers, 6; Records Supervisor, 1; Administrative and Clerical, 10.

At a press conference before the City Council meeting, police staffers held up numbers that signified they could be among the numbers of people laid off. 

Read the schedule of budget hearings here. Learn about the debate over cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department here.

The City Council is scheduled to adopt the city’s budget for the 2011/2012 fiscal year on June 21.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.