Seattle’s City Council approved their 2023-2024 budget Tuesday permanently removing 80 unfilled Seattle Police Department positions, according to The Seattle Times, despite crime continuing to ravage the city.
Mayor Bruce Harrell’s September budget proposal called for giving the city’s general fund funding that had been reserved for 200 unfilled police department roles, but the newly-approved budget eliminates 80 of those positions, the outlet reported. The passed budget funds Harrell’s police officer recruitment and retention plan and an expected 30-officer increase for 2023 and comes as the city has seen a dramatic crime increase. (RELATED: Fugitive Hiding Under Mattress Ambushes Police, Gun Fight Erupts)
The budget process exemplified our #OneSeattle value of collaboration. I am pleased that the final budget passed by Council maintains investments in improving public safety, urgent action on the housing and homelessness crises, and the essential services that residents demand.
— Mayor Bruce Harrell (@MayorofSeattle) November 30, 2022
The police department’s budget fell by more than $35 for 2020 to 2021, with the city council later approving a 2022 budget more than $6 million lower, KOMO News reported. Seattle’s violent crime rate hit a 14-year record in 2021, according to the police department’s year-end crime report.
The city has already seen more homicides in 2022 than last year, police department statistics show. The first eight months of this year were plagued with more violent crimes and property crimes combined than the corresponding months of 2021, though September and October 2022 totals fell below the totals for those months last year.
“I believe that eliminating these positions does reinforce a ‘defund‘ narrative that got us here,” City Councilmember Sara Nelson said, according to the Times. She and fellow Councilmember Alex Pedersen voted against the new budget over “weakening” public safety spending.
The police department previously said they lost more than 200 officers in 2020 and early 2021, The Associated Press reported. Seattle saw violence break out amid protests following the May 2020 death of George Floyd, and activists temporarily occupied an area called the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest” (CHOP) that summer after police evacuated it.
The Seattle Police Department and the City Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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