Seattle Is Finding Out That Defunding The Police Painful, But They Continue To Do So

Written By BlabberBuzz | Saturday, 28 November 2020 00:00

Seattle's mayor is set to approve an 18 per cent cut to the police department's budget after the city was overrun by Black Lives Matter protesters, a precinct was occupied by demonstrators and there was a surge in violent crime.

The Seattle City Council voted on Monday to shrink the budget of the Seattle Police Department by almost one-fifth, which includes cuts to overtime and training, KING-TV reported.

Mayor Jenny Durkan is set to sign the budget into law next week, just months after she said Seattle had seen a 525 per cent rise in violent crime because of the CHOP zone.

The proposed cuts, which fall short of the 50 per cent reduction that was demanded by activists, prompted police union chiefs to warn that 911 response times would be longer.

The anti-police backlash has led to a rash of resignations and retirements by officers - the largest exodus in almost a decade.

It was reported last month that at least 110 police officers have either quit or retired from the force of around 1,300 cops this year, according to KIRO-TV.

'I proposed thoughtful reductions to the Seattle Police Department that coincide with increased and continued investments in alternatives to sworn officer responses including expanding Health One and continuing to invest in mental health professionals and Community Service Officers,' the mayor said in a statement.

'I have outlined my vision and plan to make budget decisions based on informed assessments of what services we need from the Seattle Police Department and how we can scale up alternatives to policing.

Dozens of vacant jobs in the department will not be filled and 911 dispatchers and parking enforcement will be moved out of police jurisdiction.

Activists, who've been marching for months calling for the council to redirect 50 per cent of the police budget, considered Monday's vote a win but said their work is not finished, The Seattle Times reported.

A 'major concerted effort' by advocates and those in the streets should be credited for the initial results, said Nikkita Oliver, an organizer with King County Equity Now and Decriminalize Seattle who leads an arts program for youth involved in the court system.

Seattle Police Officers Guild president Mike Solan called the City Council 'naïve' and said it could take longer for officers to respond to 911 calls.

Last month, Solan sounded the alarm over the increasing number of police officers who left the force.

'Well-trained officers are fleeing because of a lack of support from our elected officials, from our council level, that are pandering to the activist mob on a false narrative about the great men and women who do the job of policing,' he said.

This budget was more challenging because of a steep decline in revenue caused by the pandemic.

'We are losing an unprecedented number of officers, which makes it even more critical that we recruit and retain officers committed to reform and community policing that reflect the diversity and values of our city,' Durkan said.

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