Seattle City Council Balks on Mayor’s Police Reform Budget
Seattle, WA – While touting the phrases of “Cut the police budget by fifty percent”, the Seattle City Council, in an unforeseen move, trimmed police spending by only twenty percent in its recent vote on the mayor’s projected budget. In an 8-1 victory on Monday, law enforcement saw complete funding for 100 officers, where naysayers wanted less than half of that. To further stifle speculation of the last minute change in funding, Mayor Jenny Durkin announced that she would sign the budget rather than veto the changes.
Previous propositions from the council assisted in the resignation of SPD Chief Carmen Best earlier this year following civil unrest, protests, riots, and the eventual creation of a multi-named autonomous zone within downtown Seattle, formerly known as Chaz. The lone holdout on the vote, Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, stated, “Every reduction in the bloated police budget reflects a real tangible victory in the movement.”
Attrition rates at the Seattle PD show that 134 officers have left the department by the start of this month, 23 in October alone. Usual city budgeting allows for only 80 by this time of year.
The removal of any budget can be staggering when examining the long term effects it has upon a department’s sustainability. Council President Lorena Gonzales believes, “(a)ny kind of hiring freeze will result in an unsustainable reduction of a force that would prevent the city from responding to critical public safety needs before alternative systems are in place.”
Councilwoman Debra Juarez summed up her issues with the current state of reforms being touted. “Defund police by 50 percent was a slogan, and it was an empty and misleading slogan. It caused damage, it caused pain, it caused trauma, it caused anger.” She was one of only two councilmembers to refuse to make the reduction pledge and continues to support the efforts of law enforcement as a whole within Seattle.