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Seattle Mayor Praises City Council For Only Defunding Police By 18 Percent

Seattle, WA – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on Tuesday that she plans to sign off on a budget plan next week that will defund the city’s police force by 18 percent.

Right now, Seattle has about 1,200 “deployable” police officers, fewer than the department had in 1990, KTTH reported.

But the population of Seattle has jumped by 44 percent since 1990.

The police department is so understaffed that officers are unable to respond to more than one serious incident in the city at a time, KTTH reported.

The Seattle City Council approved the city budget in a vote of 8-1 on Monday, according to CNN.

The lone dissenter, Councilmember Kshama Sawant, voted against the plan because she wanted a staggering 50 percent cut to the Seattle Police Department’s funding instead of the 18 percent that was ultimately pushed through.

Durkan applauded the city council in her Tuesday statement for their “deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department Budget.”

“Since June, I have outlined my vision and plan to make budget decisions based on informed assessments of what services we need from the Seattle Police Department and how we can scale up alternatives to policing,” the mayor noted. “As the City Council now recognizes, this required a thoughtful and deliberate approach and could not be done by simply cutting to any particular number or percentage.”

Durkan claimed the budget plan will “ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs,” even though police have been sounding the alarms that they are already overburdened and struggling to respond to calls.

There is much speculation that the total number of officer departures from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) will hit 200 before the end of the year, KTTH reported.

Normally five-to-seven officers depart per month.

But so far this year, there were 10 separations in May, 10 in July, 14 in August, and a whopping 39 departures in September, KTTH reported.

Lots of officers have reportedly already applied to other police departments and are just waiting for the opportunity to bolt.

“I am sad and yet, I’m not surprised that many of the great human beings that do the job of policing in Seattle are still leaving SPD at an alarming rate,” Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) President Mike Solan told KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “It saddens me because I’m witnessing a professional police agency revered by many fall victim to radical activism that is swallowing Seattle.”

Most of those leaving were patrol officers, meaning the already overburdened police department will take even longer to respond to 911 calls.

“Your 911 call for help will go unanswered for a significant amount of time,” Seattle Police Officer Guild President Mike Solan told Rantz during an interview on his radio show on KTTH.

Response times for dangerous, in-progress crimes in Seattle between July and September averaged a deplorable nine minutes.

Rantz previously reported that police officers were transferring, resigning, and retiring from the department at a higher rate than ever before with a total of 118 departures before the end of September.

SPD said it had 1,200 officers on the force in September, but that number didn’t account for any of the officers who were out on sick leave or administrative leave, KTTH reported.

Sources told Rantz that officers were using their sick leave at higher than normal rates and said many were looking for lateral transfers to police agencies in other cities.

The number of officers was expected to drop closer to 1,000 as the city council’s budget cuts were implemented and the mayor’s hiring freeze took its toll, KTTH reported.

Durkan acknowledged the “unprecedented” police exodus during an interview with KIRO early last week.

“We are losing an unprecedented number of officers, which makes it even more critical that we recruit and retain officers committed to reform and community policing that reflect the diversity and values of our city,” she said at the time.

The last “historically large” exodus of Seattle police officers was in 2018, when 108 officers resigned during the entire year.

“There are lots of people walking out the door,” another officer told KTTH at the time. “This is a mass exodus. We’re losing people left and right. Why stick around when the City Council doesn’t appreciate you? [These officers are] fleeing the ‘Seattle mentality.’”

While Seattle’s population has grown exponentially over the past 40 years, the size of the city’s police force has stayed almost the same, the city’s police union told KCPQ.

“I have never seen the number of officers who are leaving and the way they are leaving,” then-Seattle Police Guild Vice President Rich O’Neill said at the time.

Then-Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best blamed the departures on a lack of support from city leadership.

“We need them to stand up for the work that the officers…have been doing in this organization,” she said at the time. “We’re losing good people, and we know it’s because they feel like they aren’t supported by public officials.”

Durkan insisted on Tuesday that she and the city council “are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing” while also “acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of color, particularly Black communities.”

In addition to slashing the police department’s budget, the city has also vowed to dump $100 million into projects aimed at benefitting communities of color, CNN reported.

Parking enforcement, mental health workers, and 911 call-takers will all be transferred out of the police department’s oversight as part of the new plan, according to FOX News.

The city’s budget plan also aims to eliminate more vacant police positions, as well as to lay off officers with alleged misconduct records, The Seattle Times reported.

Durkan said she believes Seattle has “turned a corner” and can now make “collaborative, data-driven decisions that advance our shared policy goals.”

“I look forward to working with the City Council and communities to chart the next chapters for increasing our investments in an equitable future, while also reimagining the work of SPD and creating alternative, community-based public safety models,” the mayor added.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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