Seattle Cuts Police Department Budget To ‘Invest In Community Alternatives’

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Seattle cut its police department’s budget Monday by nearly 17% after a summer of nationwide protests.

The Seattle City Council voted Monday on the city’s 2021 budget, which allocates $340 million to the Seattle Police Department compared to the $409 million that was spent on the police in 2020, NBC News reported. Mayor Jenny Durkan expressed support for the budget cuts, which are less than the 50% budget deduction that some had advocated for, saying that they are “thoughtful and deliberate.”

“I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing,” Durkan said in a Monday statement. “We have rightly put forward a plan that seeks to ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs throughout the city, while acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of color, particularly Black communities.” (RELATED: Civil Unrest No Matter Who Wins, Seattle Police Officers Guild President Says)

“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget than occurred this summer which led to the resignation of former SPD Chief Carmen Best,” the mayor added.

Carmen Best, Seattle’s first black police chief, resigned over the talks to cut the department’s budget.

A City Hall spokeswoman Tuesday said that Durkan is expected to officially sign the new budget into law next week, NBC reported.

Councilwoman Theresa Mosqueda, Chair of the Budget Committee, said in a statement that she “set out to do 3 things in response to the movement for Black Lives,” which are to “downsize the SPD’s budget,” “invest in community alternatives that produce healthy outcomes for our BIPOC communities,” and to “not grow the size of the force in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders, and thanks to the amendment on Monday, the budget no longer reflects new net hires.”

“We have much more work to do, and we must get to work on those next steps now,” Mosqueda added.

The Seattle Police Officers Guild, the union representing Seattle police officers, came out against the budget cuts.

“You’re going to see longer, if not hardly any follow-up investigations relative to secondary piece of a 911 call for help,” Mike Sloan, the union’s president, said according to NBC.

The spending cuts will lead to dozens of unfilled vacancies at the department, overtime will be cut, and the police department will no longer be in control of 911 dispatching and parking enforcement.