Seattle council addresses plan to lay off officers, proposal to cut SPD funding
Three Seattle council members outlined plans for cutting funding to the police department, as well as laying officers off as part of that process, in a Thursday news conference.
Council President Lorena Gonzalez, alongside Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Tammy Morales, addressed recent criticism the council’s proposed cuts have received from Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Carmen Best.
“It is unfortunate that we are faced with the reality of an executive that insists on sowing the seeds of fear, all the while calling for unity,” Gonzalez said.
“The mayor and the police chief have sought to undermine our credibility,” Morales added. “As we prepare to deliberate on the 2021 budget, it’s critical for this council to lead with our values of repairing the systemic harm done to our communities by investing in Black communities now … We invite the mayor to walk alongside us, or to step out of the way.”
On Wednesday, the council approved a series of budget amendments, which include cuts to SPD’s mounted officers, school resource officers, community outreach, public affairs, Harbor Patrol, SWAT, the Navigation Team, and more.
The council’s budget committee also OK’ed a measure to begin laying off 32 SPD officers on Nov. 1. Chief Best has previously expressed concerns that such a measure would see newer, more diverse officers cut from the force, given the department’s policy to do layoffs in order of seniority.
Council members expressed confidence that layoffs could ultimately be done on an individual basis based on sustained misconduct complaints filed against officers.
Budget committee chair Teresa Mosqueda estimates that cuts to SPD approved by the council would total 41% if enacted on a yearly basis.
Shortly after Wednesday’s council session, Mayor Durkan labeled the proposal “unattainable and unworkable,” a sentiment council members contested Thursday morning.
“The mayor and the chief seem to be using the structural barriers in our institutions to say what we can’t do, instead of trying to accomplish what we all say we want to accomplish,” Herbold said.
A full council vote to approve the council’s final proposal is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 10.