Rantz: Seattle Council permanently defunds 80 cops in already understaffed police department
The Seattle City Council voted to permanently defund 80 police positions in a department that is dangerously understaffed. But they’ll tell you they fully funded the department.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has under 900 officers, with over 140 separations this year so far. The new staffing goal from Mayor Bruce Harrell — downgraded from 1,500-1,600 officers — is now just 1,400. There are so few deployable officers that precincts operate below staffing minimums, usually asking non-patrol officers to fill in to respond to 911 calls.
When allowed to commit funds to future hires the SPD so desperately needs, the council opted to cut funding to the positions permanently. Yet councilmembers still claim to support the police and argue they’re not defunding.
Council continues its defund push
Harrell proposed a temporary budget cut for some open police positions because they won’t be filled in 2023.
But councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda, Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss, Debora Juarez, and Andrew Lewis voted to make the cuts permanent, sending a clear message to future would-be recruits that they’re not wanted. Socialist Kshama Sawant voted no, but only because she didn’t think there were no taxes against Seattleites and more cuts to the SPD.
The lone councilmembers to stand up for police were Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen. They voted against the budget.
“I believe that eliminating these positions does reinforce a ‘defund‘ narrative that got us here,” Nelson noted.
But Herbold, who helped lead the charge to defund in 2020 and pushed for firing white officers because of their skin color, snapped at Nelson. She claimed Nelson was effectively lying about what happened.
“This misinformation results in members of the public not understanding that the council has fully funded the SPD’s hiring budget, for now, the third year in a row,” Herbold said. “And I feel like this conversation that we’re having actually hurts retention and it hurts hiring because we’re not focusing on what’s in the budget that supports public safety. Instead, we’re talking about the very small reductions in the mayor’s proposed budget.
Yes, this is defunding
Nelson wasn’t lying or overstating the situation. To suggest a permanent cut for staffing does not reinforce the defund reality is transparent gaslighting.
Officer Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, slammed the cut.
“The big picture is quite clear that we can’t recruit enough people to be cops in this city, mostly because of the political climate we still find ourselves in,” Solan explained on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “And as I look at this in a broad perspective, in terms of the budget, I’m seeing more activist moves to take the money away from police and put it to projects that fulfill an activist talking point. For me, we need cops, and we need people that want to be cops. And we need to be given the confidence to go forth and conduct policing to hold criminals accountable. Because we’re seeing the decay of the city.”
Councilmember Lisa Herbold exploiting public budget ignorance
As is usually the case, Herbold is offering an intentionally disingenuous account of the budget move. She’s been a vicious critic of police but since public opinion has changed, so has her rhetoric.
Fully funding a short-term staffing number is not the same as fully funding the SPD staff. By permanently cutting staffing for 80 officers, she’s the one — not Nelson — signaling cops do not matter and are not worthy of investment. Herbold, along with her anti-cop council colleagues, is why so many cops continue to leave the department.
Does anyone realistically think this anti-police council, filled with members who have either called cops racist murderers or who have defended violent threats against cops, will fund future officer positions? The goal remains to defund the police, they’re just doing it in less externally aggressive ways.
Council is dismantling the Seattle Police Department
They’re slowly dismantling the department. The funding for those 80 officers will never return under the current makeup of the council. Meanwhile, they’re still looking to implement a system where social workers respond to many 911 calls. The council views cops as dangerous, so they’ll send social workers to be assaulted or murdered by people the council pretends are harmless. They hate cops so much that they don’t mind sending social workers into harm’s way.
A trick to bring more funding to the department was to move parking enforcement, and its budget, back to the department from the Seattle Department of Transportation. This move gives the council the coverage they need to say they’re big supporters of giving the department the budget it needs to effectively police the city. Seattleites would be wise to not fall for the spin.
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