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Group of SoDo businesses question Seattle council’s effort to defund police

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A veto-proof majority of the Seattle City Council is now committed to axing 50% of the Seattle Police Department’s budget. How do businesses in the city feel about this idea? Erin Goodman, Director of the SoDo Business Improvement Area, joined KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show to discuss her co-signing a letter that questions the plan.

“People understand that there are issues with our criminal justice system. And what we’re saying in this letter is we support the idea of looking to see if maybe there is a different system that could handle many 911 calls. But what we’re really pointing to is to slow down when we’re doing policy. We need to do it in a thoughtful and rational manner and committing to an arbitrary number, just to say that number, doesn’t really point us toward good policy,” she said.

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Goodman says rushing to make such drastic cuts without some sort of backup plan is not rational policy and that more steps need to be taken first.

“We think that this process needs to involve lots of voices, a lot of community,” she said. “And we need to make sure that any funding that we remove from SPD is balanced by a system that’s up and running and functional, that can take on those activities and not just arbitrarily cut without a structure in place to ensure public safety.”

Who should be at the table for some of these discussions and conversations, in her opinion?

“I think we need a broad representation. There’s no question that there are communities that have not been at the table that need to be there, but we need to make sure we have a wide ranging diversity, and we need to have business voices, marginalized voices, resident voices, and it needs to be representative of the entire city,” she said.

Even before the pandemic, how responsive were police when businesses would call 911? Was SoDo well served?

“You’re probably familiar, we worked last year bringing attention to the prolific offender situation in Seattle, and I would say that SoDo businesses are very supportive of the police department and that they feel very responded to,” she said.

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“However, there are other elements within the entire criminal justice system that are also not functioning. That would mean that someone that was arrested on their property and taken away might be back the very next day. So I think that it’s important we look at the criminal justice system as a whole, not just the police department.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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