SEATTLE - Seattle City Council proposed a draft of their 2022 budget, and mayoral leadership—present and future—are not excited about it.
The proposal sees a litany of cuts, reallocations and funds, but most notably lists cuts the Seattle Police budget totaling up to nearly $11 million. Much of these cuts come from hiring incentives, technology projects funding and community service officers. These cuts come after Seattle's electoral rejection of more progressive candidates in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and the Defund the Police movement.
The budget proposal also cuts millions from initiatives proposed in Mayor Jenny Durkan's final draft in September.
Durkan issued the following statement after the council released their proposal Tuesday:
"After last week’s election results delivered a clear rejection of the City Council’s plans to defund SPD, I was hopeful the Council would listen to voters and address our public safety needs with a real plan. Instead, it’s déjà vu all over again with Council proposing one of the largest cuts to public safety to date.
"City’s Council’s previous promise to defund SPD by 50%, their treatment of Chief Best and their previous layoff budget led to an exodus of 325 officers from SPD in the last two years. Multiple plans to address hiring and retention proposed by Chief Diaz and I have been repeatedly rejected by a majority of Council. And just yesterday, another Councilmember proposed blocking my emergency hiring proposal that has already generated a tenfold increase in applications to 911 dispatch positions in Seattle. Continued cuts to SPD and underfunding the 911 center are not a plan for true public safety.
"We need alternatives to armed police responses, and we have significantly ramped up these alternatives. My budget invests tens of millions in those alternatives like the successful community service officer program, HealthOne, the new triage team, and community-led gun violence prevention programs. But when someone calls 911 with a dangerous, potentially life-threatening emergency -- we need enough police officers to respond.
"Seattle voters have made clear they expect Council to fund public safety and invest in community. I hope City Council make significant changes to their proposed budget in the coming weeks to protect public safety and community investments."
Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell also responded to the cuts:
"The City Council needs to listen to voters' desire for immediate investments in public safety and reverse the proposed $10 million cut to the SPD budget. Proposing further cuts deprives the City of resources needed to achieve national best practice staffing levels, decrease response times, and hire and train desperately needed officers – and is in direct conflict with what Seattle voters demanded just last week. It also delays our ability to develop and deploy a new kind of community-based, unarmed officer who will not carry a badge and gun. Overall, we need more, not fewer, public safety resources.
"Last Tuesday, the voters of Seattle resoundingly and unambiguously rejected defunding the police. Our campaign expressed a clear message and commitment: We must deliver true community safety, ensure unbiased policing, and decrease length of response times by improving training, hiring more and better officers, creating unarmed and alternative responses, and changing the culture within SPD. That vision and those goals for improvement and reform cannot be achieved with this proposed $10 million cut."
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