Seattle City Council cuts police budget, chief's salary


Published by OREGONLIVE.COM

Summary generated on August 11, 2020


    SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council approved proposals Monday that would reduce the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition - an action supported by demonstrators who have marched in the city following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis but strongly opposed by the mayor and police chief.

    On Monday, only council member Kshama Sawant voted against the budget package, saying it does not do enough to defund the police.

    Seattle currently has about 1,400 police officers and the reductions fell far short of the 50% cut to the department that many Black Lives Matter protesters are seeking.

    The City Council also cut Police Chief Carmen Best's roughly $285,000 annual salary and the pay of other top police leaders, although the final cuts to Best's salary were significantly more modest than those approved last week.

    "While we can't do everything in this summer rebalancing package, we have set the path forward for tremendous work in front of us as a council and as a city," Council member Teresa Mosqueda said.

    Council member Dan Strauss said the council will keep working toward providing public safety that works for everyone in Seattle, providing "The right response to 911 calls right away," which he said in the future may not always include an armed officer.

    Mayor Jenny Durkan and Best had urged the council to slow down its discussions about police budgets, saying the issue could be taken up in earnest when the 2021 city budget is considered.

    Durkan has proposed cutting about $20 million from the police budget this year largely because of reduced revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Last month, the mayor sketched out a plan to reduce the police budget by about $75 million next year by transferring parking enforcement officers, the 911 call center and other areas out of the department.

    "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," Durkan said in a statement after the vote.