The conservative GOP Mayor of Seattle and her Chief Stormtrooper of the Seattle PD, are locked in a struggle to determine who dictates to whom on questions about how far to cut spending on policing in the City of Seattle, and whether only half the police department shall be fired, or the entire department disbanded and replaced by Antifa volunteers as recommended by the City Council.
The absurdity of what I just wrote is pretty much matched by what is actually happening in Seattle right now — a City where BLM/Antifa were able to take over city blocks and shutter a downtown Seattle PD precinct station because the Mayor thought it was akin to the 1967 “Summer of Love” in Berkeley and other cities in Northern California.
The Seattle City Council has nine members — eight Democrats and one Socialist. By comparison, Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best are close to conservative and “law and order.”
The City Council has proposed budget cuts to the Police Department for 2021 in the amount of 50% so the funds saved can be reprogrammed into a variety of kooky schemes to provide “alternatives” to traditional policing services.
The City Council has also recently discussed a series of steps to reduce the ranks of Seattle Police Officers by 100 personnel in just the remaining five months of 2020 alone.
It has been reported that seven out of the nine members of the City Council support the proposed 50% cut and that the remaining two members support a cut to the Department’s budget, just not to that extreme.
The operating budget for 2020 is approximately $400 million. Police Chief Best estimates that if the budget were cut by 50%, she would be forced to lay off approximately 700 sworn officers — Seattle has only 1300 sworn officers.
Durkan and Best have made the point to the City Council that the existing police labor union contract dictates that any force layoffs be done by seniority, which means the newest recruits would be the first to be let go. The most recent recruiting class to graduate from the Seattle PD police academy includes 39% who are minorities – the most diverse recruit class ever. All those new officers would be the first to go.
But Durkan also pointed out that even if the discussion with the Council was only to cut sworn personnel by 100 in order to reprogram those funds to alternative methods of providing for public safety, the same recruits from the newest recruiting class would be the first to go.
“If the Council really wants to reduce the force of officers by 100, let’s acknowledge that it means that you’re going to lay off the most diverse recruits and new officers. That’s the reality of it. The chief and I do not believe that that is worth the trade-off of $1.6 million and it takes policing in our city in the wrong direction.”
The proposal to exhaust the remaining balance of the “Rainy Day Fund” also drew criticism because of unknown contingencies that might still arise in the future.
“Look, 2020 has been an awful year. We are facing a global pandemic, a huge economic downturn, a civil rights uprising… I’m not confident that in 2020 and 2021 that there won’t be emergencies. We know that to defer some of this, the rainy day fund, it’s the only cash we have in the bank. Literally, they are zeroing out our rainy day funds and our emergency funds.”
Best and Durkan have attempted to respond to the City Council’s demand that they locate funding within the SPD budget that can be reprogrammed to alternative methods of providing for public safety. They identified nearly $100 million in potential savings over the remainder of 2020 and for 2021, which would combine total approximately 10% of the remaining budgetary spending over that same time period.
“Chief and I share the goal of much of Seattle. We want to lead the nation in reimaging policing. We know that we can do that and still protect public safety and have a system in place where people get the help they need 24/7 in every part of the city.”
Seattle already has a 50% failure rate with regard to response times to “Priority One” calls to 911. Reducing force size by 100 officers seems to be going in the opposite direction of what’s needed.
Cutting 700 officers, as would result from the 50% budget reduction championed by 7 of 9 Seattle City Council members, would meaning nothing less than vast segments of the Seattle would go without police services altogether.
For some reason, I have a suspicion some elected politicians in Seattle want it that way.
You get the government you vote for.