Seattle council rejects proposal that sought to cut 101 unfilled SPD positions

Nov 19, 2021, 12:18 PM
Bothell Mayor, Seattle police, SPD positions...
Supporter of police pause for a moment in honor of Jonathan Shoop, of Bothell, Washington police officer. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Seattle City Councilmembers voted against a budget amendment on Thursday that had sought to eliminate just over 100 unfilled positions with the city’s police department.

Explaining Seattle council’s proposed police budget, plans to address staffing

The amendment was sponsored by exiting Council President Lorena Gonzalez, designed around a staffing plan submitted by the Seattle Police Department that indicated it wouldn’t need funding in 2022 for more than 1,223 full-time sworn officers. The budget proposal transmitted to the council by Mayor Jenny Durkan had allocated funds for 1,357 positions.

Gonzalez based the amendment on SPD’s predictions for staffing in 2022, which estimated that it would see an additional 94 separations next year, while expecting to hire 125 new officers. Those numbers, she posited, meant that under Durkan’s plan, the police department would be receiving funds for positions it didn’t expect to be able to fill within the next year.

“If these assumptions hold true, then at no point will SPD need more than 1,256 sworn (full time officers),” the amendment reads.

The idea was to instead eliminate 101 already vacant positions, and then use those savings to fund investments in alternative 911 responses like Triage One, as well as upgrades to the city’s Information Technology systems.

Mayor Durkan, city council could be primed for another showdown over SPD hiring

Just hours before the council was set to vote on the amendment as part of a larger five-hour budget committee meeting, interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz released a lengthy statement urging councilmembers to reject the proposal. In it, he appeared to erroneously suggest that the amendment would lead to the termination of more officers in a year where the department already lost 325 officers to resignations and retirements.

“The Council President’s amendment would permanently eliminate another 101 officers,” Diaz claimed. “This would greatly jeopardize the safety of our communities and have long term impacts on investigating violent crimes and caring for our most vulnerable.”

Ultimately, councilmembers voted against the proposal by a 5-4 margin, which will likely lead to full funding for Durkan’s proposed 1,357 positions.

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Seattle council rejects proposal that sought to cut 101 unfilled SPD positions