Seattle proposes to cut police budget by $ 10 million

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Seattle’s mayor and mayor-elect were outraged by the cuts, especially after saying recent election results demonstrated a public rebuke against police funding.

SEATTLE – Seattle’s revised 2022 budget is under review as some leaders express outrage over millions of dollars in additional cuts to police service.

Teresa Mosqueda, a member of the Seattle City Council and chair of the Budget Committee, released the city’s revised budget proposal on Tuesday, which called for cuts of around $ 10 million in the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

The revised budget is an amended version of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposal, which was presented at the end of September.

“Over the past seven weeks, we have worked diligently to try and resolve many of the issues that community members, council members have reported to ensure we are meeting the growing needs across our city. and invest in a fairer environment. and fair Seattle, ”Mosqueda said Tuesday during his overview of the revised budget.

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While the budget adds millions of dollars to alternative crime prevention measures, law enforcement studies and community organizations, the proposal cuts SPD’s community service worker program by $ 1.3 million as well. that $ 1.24 million from SPD’s technology projects.

The reductions of about $ 4.5 million alone come from expected savings from downsizing SPD staff and “service efficiencies” which the board says will reduce agent demand for things like overtime. , travel and training.

For example, due to the higher than normal attrition in the department, SPD hopes to save millions in vacancies. In addition, the board expects the SPD to implement new tactics to reduce officers’ overtime, including overtime reductions at events and demonstrations.

Another $ 2.7 million is being cut due to additional departures of officers. In fact, the board predicts that the SPD will lose 31 more officers in 2022 than predicted in the SPD’s staffing plan, which called for 125 hires and 94 departures.

The council said it is making these predictions because its analysis of recent attrition trends shows separations will be higher, and 12 more separations are expected by January 1 due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. from the city.

Almost $ 2 million more is being rolled out of hiring incentives.

Durkan and mayor-elect Bruce Harrell each issued statements shortly after the proposal was released, recalling both recent election results and the large number of SPD separations seen over the past two years.

“Seattle voters have made it clear that they expect the Council to fund public safety and invest in community. I hope that city council will make significant changes to its proposed budget in the coming weeks to protect public safety and community investments, ”the statement from Durkan reads in part.

The mayor recently issued an emergency ordinance authorizing hiring incentives for the SPD and the Community Safety and Communications Center. Council member Kshama Sawant challenges the order through a resolution that seeks to reduce hiring incentives for the SPD.

Harrell responded to the review by saying that city council “must listen to the wishes of the voters” and condemned the cuts to “public safety”.

“We need to provide real community safety, ensure impartial policing and reduce response times by improving training, hiring more and better officers, creating unarmed and alternative responses and changing the culture.” within the SPD ”, we read in part in his statement. “This vision and these goals for improvement and reform cannot be achieved with this proposed $ 10 million cut.”

In a statement released with the budget proposal, Mosqueda said the proposed amendments “focus on increasing services to the homeless, economic recovery, building affordable housing, equitable community safety and investing in the homeless. a resilient Seattle “.

The budget committee meets again on Wednesday morning to review the proposal. Then, at 5:30 p.m., a public meeting will be held to give the community the opportunity to express themselves on the proposed changes.

Those interested can register for public comment here.

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