Seattle City Council approves cutting 100 police positions, 1 percent of budget

Seattle City Council approves cutting 100 police positions, 1 percent of budget
© Getty Images

The Seattle City Council approved measures on Monday that would cut up to 100 police positions and 1 percent of the department’s budget.

The proposal, which Black Lives Matter protesters backed and Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) and Police Chief Carmen Best were against, would take less than $4 million from the department’s $400 million annual budget, The Associated Press reported

Seven of eight council members supported the proposals, with only council member, Kshama Sawant, voting against, saying they did not do enough to defund police.

ADVERTISEMENT

Several lawmakers emphasized the measures served as a starting point for police reform as demonstrations have continued in the city since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in late May, according to the news service.

Protesters had called for a 50 percent decrease in officers within the Seattle Police Department, which currently employs 1,400 officers. 

The council also approved a drop in Best’s and other police leaders’ annual salary and removing officers from a team that disperses camps where homeless people stay, according to the AP.

The mayor and Best had pushed for council members to discuss cuts within the 2021 city budget instead of rushing talks within the currently proposed budget. 

Durkan and Best also had argued that job cuts within the department would most likely affect newer officers, who are usually hired from Black and brown communities, which could put the city at risk for lawsuits, the AP reported. 

A spokesperson for Durkan said in a statement that the mayor “continues to have concerns” with the council’s approach to cut jobs, including those “involved in outreach and engagement” with those experiencing homelessness, and police leadership salaries.  

“It is unfortunate Council has refused to engage in a collaborative process to work with the Mayor, Chief Best, and community members to develop a budget and policies that respond to community needs while accounting for – not just acknowledging – the significant labor and legal implications involved in transforming the Seattle Police Department,” the spokesperson said. 

Durkan had reportedly put together a proposal last month to decrease the police department’s budget by about $75 million in next year’s budget through moving responsibilities like parking enforcement and the 911 call center out of the department, according to the AP.