Oakland city councilmembers voted Tuesday to create a public safety task force with the goal of reducing the police budget to a level called on by residents.

The vote was unanimous, and councilmembers included a mayoral appointee on the task force, something that was opposed by many members of the public during the public comment period.

The task force goal is to reduce the Oakland Police Department’s general purpose fund budget by 50 percent with a plan that will be integrated into the 2021-23 city budget.

“We are really going for a transformation,” said Councilmember Loren Taylor who introduced the resolution with Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas.

Taylor said it is really about increasing community safety.

The task force will have 17 members and at least two will be youths. Each district councilmember will appoint one task force member and council President Rebecca Kaplan, the at-large representative, will appoint one.

Councilmembers Taylor and Bas will be the co-chairs of the task force.

Formerly incarcerated individuals, communities impacted by police violence, and among others, victims of violent crime, will have some form of representation on the body.

Current or former law enforcement officers were not included on the task force, but they were not excluded either, which members of the public also demanded during the public comment period.

The resolution says that someone with law enforcement operations/budget knowledge will be on the task force.

Councilmember Lynette Gibson-McElhaney suggested the task force go without a mayoral appointee. She said she would rather see another youth voice on the body.

“I don’t feel it’s necessary to have a mayoral appointee,” she said.

But Vice Mayor Larry Reid, Taylor, and council President Pro Tempore Dan Kalb rejected Gibson-McElhaney’s idea.

Taylor said the mayoral appointee is just one voice of 17 and it is a community member.

“My bias would be to keep the mayoral appointee,” Taylor said.

Bas was willing to accept Gibson-McElhaney’s idea and Kaplan supported it.

Reid said doing it right means having a mayoral appointee.

The task force will not be a standing body, but Taylor said it will be subject to Oakland’s Sunshine Ordinance, which promotes access to government documents and timely notice of public meetings.

Following nominations of task force members, which may be completed by the end of August, the body may be introduced to the public on Sept. 29, at a joint meeting with the City Council and other groups.

Bas and Taylor agreed that all councilmembers would be co-sponsors of the resolution.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.