Current, future Seattle mayors issue criticism for council’s plan to cut $10M from police budget

Nov 10, 2021, 3:41 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2021, 7:58 am
SPD budget...
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (Getty Images), and Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Seattle’s current and future mayors issued harsh criticism this week over a proposal from the Seattle City Council to cut over $10 million from the Seattle Police Department’s budget in 2022.

Seattle’s next mayor ‘needs to support the police department’

The proposed cuts were unveiled by Council Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda on Tuesday, including:

  • A $1.3 million cut from SPD’s Community Service Officers program
  • $1.24 million from technology projects
  • $4.5 million in salary savings from departed officers
  • $2.7 million from predicted salary savings for estimated officer attrition in 2022
  • $1.1 million from SPD hiring incentives

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was critical of the council’s proposal in a statement issued on Wednesday, noting that “continued cuts to SPD and underfunding the 911 center are not a plan for true public safety.”

“We need alternatives to armed police responses, and we have significantly ramped up these alternatives,” she added. “But when someone calls 911 with a dangerous, potentially life-threatening emergency — we need enough police officers to respond.”

Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell echoed that sentiment, pointing to recent election results where more moderate Seattle candidates prevailed as proof that voters had “unambiguously rejected defunding the police.”

Seattle councilmember proposes changes to city budget to address SPD staffing crisis

“We must deliver true community safety, ensure unbiased policing, and decrease length of response times by improving training, hiring more and better officers, creating unarmed and alternative responses, and changing the culture within SPD. That vision and those goals for improvement and reform cannot be achieved with this proposed $10 million cut,” Harrell said.

Mosqueda has since defended the proposed cuts, outlining a goal to use those savings to add 26 positions to the city’s 911 dispatch unit, $4 million to an initiative for addressing gun violence, $500,000 for restorative justice programs, $3.5 million for the LEAD program, $2.5 million for mental and behavioral health crisis services, and $1.5 million for “mobile advocacy services with flexible financial assistance for survivors of gender-based violence.”

Mosqueda also stated that the council’s proposal “includes all the tech deemed needed” by federal monitors overseeing an ongoing police consent decree.

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Current, future Seattle mayors issue criticism for council’s plan to cut $10M from police budget