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Where Are U.S. COVID Relief Funds Going? In CA, Police Get Large Sums


AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Big cities in California spent large portions of their federal COVID-19 relief money on police departments, a review of public records shows, with several cities prioritizing police funding by a wide margin, The Guardian reports. In the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Biden administration’s signature stimulus package, the U.S. sent funds to cities to help them fight coronavirus and support local recovery efforts. The money could be used to fund a range of services, including public health and housing initiatives, health care workers’ salaries, infrastructure investments and aid for small businesses.


Most large California cities spent millions of ARPA dollars on law enforcement. Some also gave police money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act, adopted in 2020 under President Trump.


-- San Francisco received $312 million in ARPA funds for fiscal year 2020 and allocated 49 percent to police, 13 percent to the sheriff’s department, and the remainder to the fire department.


-- Los Angeles spent about half of its first round of Arpa relief funds on police.


-- Fresno spent $36.6 million of its Cares funds on the police, 67 percent of Cares spending on city salaries.


-- Long Beach allocated the majority of its $135.8 million ARPA funds to police.


Fresno allocated more than double of its Cares money to police than it did to COVID testing, contact tracing, small business grants, childcare vouchers, transitional housing and small business grants combined.


Oakland’s police allocation was greater than the amounts spent on a housing initiative, a small business grant program and a workforce initiative.