Calls to defund the police, led by Sameera Rajwade, pervade San Ramon



The city has recently faced calls to defund the San Ramon Police Department.

Sneha Cheenath, Editor in Chief

San Ramon has recently faced calls to defund the police from the community.
A petition to, signed by almost 700 people, emphasizes that the police should use less intense weaponry at protests, replace expensive cars with cheaper alternatives and have training to be more racially conscious.
This petition was started by Sameera Rajwade, who is running for San Ramon City Council’s District 3 position. Their opponent, Sridhar Verose told the that he does not support defunding the police but wants to put more funding into training and “work[ing] with our community as well as our San Ramon police department to review and reform any policies.”

The police currently take up 30.8% of the city’s general fund and get some state and federal funding in addition

Rajwade disagrees, saying “Putting our money into community resources is what makes San Ramon strong”.
The police currently take up 30.8% of the city’s general fund and get some state and federal funding in addition. Police captain Denton Carlson said that this is necessary to keep San Ramon safe: “We actually spend a very small amount per capita when compared to other agencies”
San Ramon spends about $330.96 per resident annually on the police. The national average is $354 per resident. Larger cities, like Los Angeles, often spend upwards of $400 per resident (not counting the recent changes).

People across the country also insist that the police have too many weapons and should be “demilitarized”. Rajwade agreed with this idea, citing her experience at the San Ramon BLM protest: “I’m against looking up and seeing a sniper on a rooftop.” Rajwade’s anonymous survey on the community’s opinion of the SRPD had several people agree that the efforts were “excessive” or “overkill”.
Carlson explained in an email that the Central County SWAT team was at the protest as observers and were assigned rooftop positions to get the better vantage point- “This strategy is one we have used for a while because when you are above a large gathering, you have an exponentially greater perspective than someone who is at ground level”. Carlson mentioned that they also used this strategy when San Ramon still had fireworks in Central Park.
Rajwade believes that the tone that police and weapons bring often makes protests become violent, protests that otherwise would have remained peaceful. Carlson said “but on the backside and behind the scenes, we have to be ready for something that may not be as peaceful.”
Rajwade will come out with full policy soon, but they mentioned that the first step to defunding the SRPD would be to have a hiring freeze. This would cause a significant decrease in funding, as personnel costs take up 80% of the budget.