JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold suggests SPD fire white cops

Jul 19, 2020, 1:07 PM | Updated: Jul 20, 2020, 7:28 am
lisa herbold defund police...
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. (Seattle City Council)
(Seattle City Council)

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a supporter of the radical defund movement, suggests the Seattle Police Department fire officers for being white. This wouldn’t just be racist, it would be illegal.

The Seattle City Council is on a mission to cut the police budget by 50% — a completely random number they’ve jumped on. Their end goal is to abolish the police. Of course, this would have deadly consequences that this council is blind to. Indeed, when councilmembers call the police, they get immediate attention.

The move would also undoubtedly result in a less diverse workforce. But Herbold seems willing to rid the police department of their white officers. The reason? They’re white.

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The budget cuts would deeply impact staffing levels for an already dangerously low in the staffing department. About 80% of the SPD’s budget is due to personnel costs. Thus a 50% cut will result in fewer officers and civilian staff members. This makes the force less diverse.

The SPD has spent considerable energy hiring a more racially diverse police force after community activists falsely complained the force doesn’t accurately reflect the city’s population. The newest officers hired and trained represent the diversity the community demanded. But they’d also be the first cut when layoffs are forced by the council. But Herbold has an idea: Fire the white cops!

Herbold starts off her argument with a disingenuous implication that layoffs might not occur. During a council meeting, she claimed this was a “worst case scenario” but she knows this is false. Herbold is attempting to frame her radical agenda as not that big of a deal.

But then, Herbold says a way to get around laying off “BIPOC” (black, indigenous, and people of color) officers is to request permission to lay off the more veteran officers (who are white), thus allowing the SPD to spare officers of color.

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Herbold’s argument is both dangerous and illegal

First, why in the world would you lay off the most trained and experienced officers for newly hired ones?

Some of the less fringe members of the movement claim to want better trained and more effective officers patrolling city streets. The veteran officers hold the best training and have institutional knowledge of the force, not to mention pre-existing community relationships. How does laying them off help lead to more “efficient operations” within the department? It’s a horrible argument.

Second, Herbold is essentially recommending SPD fire older officers solely based on their race. It’s a position earning the ire of one of the country’s leading legal scholars Jonathan Turley.

On his blog, Turley slammed Herbold’s idea as illegal discrimination on the basis of race, mocking the councilmember as someone who foolishly “believes that it is discrimination for a good cause.”

“This of course would be even more egregious since Herbold wants to fire white officers due to their race alone,” Turley writes. “They would not be accused of any wrongdoing or failure. The problem is their race.”

His legal take down of Herbold’s position is worth reading here.

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Rantz: Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold suggests SPD fire white cops