Council poised to slash SPD budget in half, Mayor calls proposal irresponsible

It was only a short time ago when Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed a 5% budget reduction at SPD, but the city council may override her plan. Some business owners voiced concern, while SPOG called the plan devoid of logic.

Business owners across the city are trapped in dealing with multiple crises from a pandemic to massive and overwhelmingly peaceful.

Tanning salon owner Daniel Mann says he is at his wit's end. Already closed two of his facilities were forced to close over crime issues, he said. 

This week, seven of ten council members voiced support to dramatically change the face of policing in the city.

The council’s majority support of the plan could any forthcoming policy might be veto-proof.

 “It turned on a dime and is devoid of logic,” said SPOG President Mike Solan.

He blasted the council calling massive cut in funding the result of a city council engaged in activism.

“We’re all in for reform and continue reform reimagining policing,” he said.

Prolonged protests demanding radical change to what some called a systemically iniquitous criminal justice system that unfairly and sometimes fatally impacted communities of color appears to have influenced councilmembers.

Half of SPD’s budget totals around $200 million.

Earlier this week, city council considered an outlined proposal to immediately freeze hiring, reduce patrol staff and administration among others.

Budgets would also be cut from the department’s recruitment and retention programs, officer training, public relations, spending on homeland security and eliminate overtime pay.

The outline added those savings should pay to house the homeless, invest in outside groups working on violence prevention, and civilianize the department’s 911 center so dispatchers instead deploy non-officers to crises linked to drug-user and mental health, family and community mediation where appropriate.

Q13 News political analyst C.R. Douglas says the policy shift will be a tough challenge and may have unintended consequences but change is inevitable.

“Overnight, city leaders agreed that SPD needed to be dramatically rethought,” he said. 

Mann agrees reform is needed but is not sure drastic measures are appropriate so quickly.

“What would happen to our fire dept if we did that?” he asked.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office shared a statement about the developments from city council and it reads in part:

‘The council’s stated goal of defunding the police department in 2020 by 50 percent is simply irresponsible. Their actions, which do not include a plan to reimagine community safety, could shift resources dramatically - leading to mass layoffs, precinct closures, and lawsuits.’

Chief Best said furloughs and job cuts are likely as the pandemic has hammered the city’s revenue streams, adding it is reckless to ask the people of the city to test a theory that crime goes away if police go away.

Best released a video statement late Friday afternoon.