SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Monday blasted the City Council’s plan to cut the police department’s budget by 50% and instead proposed transferring a list of functions like the 911 call center and parking enforcement out of the agency’s budget.
“We need to invest in community-based solutions that address underlying root issues,” Durkan said at a news conference. “The community has made clear, they want us to transform the Seattle Police Department and to reinvest in programs that provide this kind of community safety.”
Monday’s announcement came after weeks of street protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Calls to defund the Seattle police grew louder after protesters were hit with pepper spray and flash bombs during demonstrations.
The Office of Police Accountability received more than 17,000 complaints against officers related to protests. Most focus on 17 incidents that range from excessive force, flashbang injuries and aggressive crowd-handling tactics.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant had said on Twitter that in July and August the council will vote on the police budget for the rest of 2020 and they plan to cut about 50%, or about $85 million.
On Monday, Sawant said: “In the autumn budget vote, Seattle City Council will vote on the budget for next year. People’s Budget will then bring the legislation to defund all of next year’s police budget by at least half, around $200 million, going by their budget for this year.”
Seven of the council’s nine members support that plan, Durkan said, but they’ve failed to speak with the chief or conduct any thorough research to understand the impacts of that kind of a drastic cut. Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said eliminating half the department would risk public safety.
“Our budget is almost entirely personnel,” Best said. “I will not sacrifice officers of color for political points.”
City Councilmember and Public Safety Chair Lisa Herbold said via Twitter on Monday that the council is working through the police budget and is in the very beginning stages of developing proposals. Herbold also said Best wouldn’t have to fire the newest people, many of whom are people of color, in a layoff scenario because Best can request permission to do them out of order :Newsyahoo.com