Seattle, Wash. City Council voted to cut nearly $4 million from the police department's budget, instead directing $17 million in community investments.
Shortly after the council's vote, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her retirement, CNN reports. "I want to thank Mayor (Jenny) Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times," Best said in a letter to members of the police force obtained by CNN. "I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times."
Total initial cuts to Seattle Police Department’s budget during the summer session are a down-payment for future potential reductions to the SPD budget, said Council President M. Lorena Gonzales. These reductions equate to nearly $4 million in cuts, which actualized over a year will equate to an estimated $11 million.
- Cut 32 officers from patrol – $533,000
- Reduced specialized units including officers assigned to mounted unit, school resource officers, homeland security, harbor patrol, SWAT team – $250,000
- Removed officers from Navigation Team – $216,000
- Reduced staff budget – $500,000
- Reduced administrative costs, including salaries, community outreach, public affairs
- Cut $56,000 from training and travel expenses
- Cut recruitment and retention – $800,000
- Transferred victim advocates from SPD to Human Services Department – $377,000 impact
- Removed two sworn officer positions from the 911 Emergency Call Center
Community investments will include:
- $10 million to scale up community-led public safety organizations.
- $4 million youth-focused safety programs, including Community Passageways,
- $3 million for participatory budgeting for public safety
Council President Gonzales issued a statement noting, "Reducing the budget of the Seattle Police Department is a response to the calls for advocating for racial justice and investments in BIPOC communities. Our inquest into SPD’s budget revealed 3% of 911 calls result in arrest but 56% of calls involve non-criminal activity. As a City, we cannot look at this data and assume this is a best practice and cost-efficient. What we cando is allow our police to focus on what they are trained to do and fund service providers addressing the more complex issues of housing, substance use disorder, youth violence prevention, affordable healthcare, and more. Funding interventions and casework centered in harm reduction will mean public safety rooted in community and addressing the root causes of why many people utilize 911, rather than funding arrests and incarceration."