SEATTLE - The Seattle Police Department has lost an unprecedented 325 officers in the last two years. The department is now desperately trying to recruit, but they say they can't significantly increase their numbers in the years to come if city council members take away funding.
The department says they now have less than 1,000 men and women who are able to immediately deploy to a call, and that number takes into consideration the 93 officers in limbo who have filed for a vaccine exemption.
The current deployable officer ratio means there are 1.3 officers to every 1,000 Seattleites.
The issue of police funding was front and center for many voters in last week’s election.
"We are going in the wrong direction on some of the challenges and voters said enough is enough," said Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) President Jon Scholes.
Fresh off her re-election, Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda proposed an amendment to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s budget which includes a $10 million cut to the Seattle Police Department in 2022.
In an interview with FOX 13 News on Wednesday, Mosqueda explained why she thought the amendment was necessary.
"We do not have a revenue forecast that came in that meets the revenues that the mayor anticipated. We had to make tough decisions on where funding was going," Mosqueda said.
When asked why police funding was then not prioritized since high response times are posing public safety concerns, Mosqueda said:
"So when we want officers to respond faster, we need to make sure they are being freed up to respond to high acuity calls. That is exactly what we have done in the budget. We maintained every single hire, that the mayor, that the chief said that they wanted to do in 2021," Mosqueda said.
She also emphasized that she is not cutting any current staffing and that SPD’s narrative is "fear-mongering."
Mosqueda, however, supports the movement to defund police. Her goal remains to move dollars to alternative policing.
She and others on the council want to recruit and train a civilian force to respond to 911 calls, which in turn they say will lower the calls officers have to go to.
Mosqueda says the new system is in the process of being built and funded right now, but it's unclear how long will the new system take to produce any results.
DSA also released a statement in reaction to Mosqueda’s changes to the proposed budget:
"Seattle City Council Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda is ignoring voter sentiment that rang loud and clear in last week’s election in her proposal to cut millions in SPD funding and stand in the way of addressing homelessness downtown. This is a tone-deaf budget proposal that will negatively impact community safety, leave more people on the streets to suffer and slow economic recovery. Seattle voters overwhelmingly identified public safety and chronic homelessness as the most critical issues facing our city and they want elected leaders to prioritize city spending on plans and solutions that deliver results."
Another issue potentially on the chopping block on Nov. 22, when the final budget vote will be held, is council member Kshama Sawant's desire to get rid of hiring incentives for police and dispatch.
Recently, Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an emergency order approving bonuses to attract recruits. The city says they are offering $10,000 for entry-level recruits and $25,000 bonuses to attract experienced officers to SPD.
Stay connected with FOX 13 News on all platforms:
DOWNLOAD: FOX 13 News and Weather Apps
WATCH: FOX 13 News Live
SUBSCRIBE: FOX 13 on YouTube
DAILY BRIEF: Sign Up For Our Newsletter
FOLLOW: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram