Council holdout clarifies position on proposal to cut SPD funding by 50%

Jul 16, 2020, 8:44 AM | Updated: 10:40 am
Debora Juarez, Seattle City Hall...
Debora Juarez in the Seattle City Council chambers. (Seattle City Council, Flickr)
(Seattle City Council, Flickr)

Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez issued a statement Wednesday clarifying her position on a proposal currently under consideration, which would cut the police department’s budget by 50%.

Seattle council weighs proposal to cut police budget in half

Representing District 5, Juarez is one of two councilmembers who have not committed to that 50% benchmark (the other being District 4’s Alex Pedersen, who has yet to issue a statement of his own). That being so, she iterated that she still supports “reallocating the SPD budget and investing in communities that have lived with the ravages and inhumanity of racism.”

“Our collective gaze is exactly where it should be. We need to rebuild our police department,” she said in a written release. “… We need to plant a new tree because the roots, trunk, branches and fruit of this tree are poisoned, as are the future seeds.”

“In order to reorganize, reduce and reallocate such funds and duties, we need a plan, not a percentage,” she added.

Juarez outlined the need to better understand “what is being cut or reassigned,” where those funds will be directed, the timeline for implementation, and the potential impacts on public safety.

Opinion: Cuts are coming for SPD’s budget, with or without Durkan

“We must balance our desire for expediency with foresight to ensure these reforms are permanent,” she said. “If we don’t, we risk losing the progress made by community leaders and jeopardizing the hard work of thousands demanding better for their communities, and for humanity.”

The proposal councilmembers are looking at right now would scale down SPD’s remaining budget for 2020 by 12% monthly increments, totaling 50% by the end of the year, while scaling up a civilian-led 911 response system, community based organizations, and more.

Those cuts would include SPD’s recruitment, hiring, public relations, and training budgets, as well as an end to overtime pay for officers, and the city’s Navigation Team.

A competing proposal from Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best would move roughly $76 million in services out of SPD’s budget in 2021, while cutting an additional $20.5 million.

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Council holdout clarifies position on proposal to cut SPD funding by 50%