SPD Chief Best: Council bid to defund police is ‘height of recklessness’
The Seattle City Council appears to have a veto proof majority in order to defund the Seattle Police Department by 50%. SPD Chief Carmen Best joined the Jason Rantz Show with her reaction and the effect she believes the plan would have on public safety.
“I think the word plan is rather loose here. They haven’t got a plan. All they have shown us that they want to reduce the budget by 50%. I haven’t seen any real planning in that. And the real tragedy of doing that is that we will lose 1,100 employees. That’s 50% of our total workforce because most of our budget is made up of our personnel costs and it would be a tragedy,” Chief Best said.
“I think that it’s the height of recklessness for them to decimate public safety for the city of Seattle without being thoughtful and encouraging public engagement on this issue.”
The measure was first floated by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda in early June, following weeks of protests in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Those protests saw police clash with demonstrators numerous times, often releasing tear gas into the residential area to disperse late-night crowds.
For Chief Best, the proposed plan is not taking into account the safety of the community and is instead overt political signaling.
“I can tell you the idea of gutting the police department and thinking that we’re gonna maintain public safety is absolutely the height of untested theory, and it’s a lot of political posturing. We’re trying to really deal with public safety. It just shows that they don’t know the facts,” she said.
“We have seven people — councilmember Gonzalez, councilmember Herbold, councilmember Strauss, councilmember Lewis, councilmember Mosqueda, Morales, and Sawant — deciding the public safety for every single person, 750,000 people in the city. And they don’t know what the jobs are that people actually do.”
Does she think there’s enough folks in the community who are going to step up and put pressure on those councilmembers?
“I hope that the silent majority will speak up and will let the council know that they do want public safety. It doesn’t mean — as you know, I’ve been talking about re-envisioning and doing things differently and making sure that we have community led police services — but what we can’t do is totally gut police service to the whole city. It is incredibly dangerous, and they’re playing politics at the expense of public safety,” she said.
“We are working for the public and the City Council. Who are they working for? Themselves?”
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