– Council President M. Lorena González (Pos. 9, Citywide) issued the following statement after the Seattle City Council, through its summer budget rebalancing process, voted to make initial reductions to Seattle Police Department’s remaining 2020 budget, including a $17 million appropriation to scaling up community-led public safety interventions:
“Today, Council voted on a rebalanced budget package. This budget charts a course for evaluating community-informed public safety interventions.
“We have spent the last 56 days (since June 15, 2020) rebalancing the 2020 budget as a result of the economic crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic. No one could have anticipated that we would be faced by a global pandemic, an economic crisis and a national racial reckoning that places the responsibility of a path forward squarely at the feet of local leaders. With a lack of unified federal leadership, this growing economic recession means we must do more with much less.
“Our overarching goal was to provide support for more affordable housing, continue to build vibrant communities, and to invest in programs that correct intergenerational wrongs. We cannot afford to lose ground from the hard fought wins that have taken years to achieve.
“Reducing the budget of the Seattle Police Department is a response to the calls for advocating for racial justice and investments in BIPOC communities.
“Our inquest into SPD’s budget revealed 3% of 911 calls result in arrest but 56% of calls involve non-criminal activity. As a City, we cannot look at this data and assume this is a best practice and cost-efficient. What we cando is allow our police to focus on what they are trained to do and fund service providers addressing the more complex issues of housing, substance use disorder, youth violence prevention, affordable healthcare, and more. Funding interventions and casework centered in harm reduction will mean public safety rooted in community and addressing the root causes of why many people utilize 911, rather than funding arrests and incarceration.
“The Council has used the summer rebalancing budget process to consider initial cuts, with more budget allocation decisions to be made in the fall during the Council’s regularly-scheduled budget session.”
- $10 million to scale up community-led public safety organizations.
- $4 million youth-focused safety programs, including Community Passageways,
- $3 million for participatory budgeting for public safety
Total initial cuts to SPD’s budget during the summer session are a down-payment for future potential reductions to the SPD budget. These reductions equate to nearly $4 million in cuts, which actualized over a year will equate to an estimated $11 million.
- Cut 32 officers from patrol – $533,000
- Reduced specialized units including officers assigned to mounted unit, school resource officers, homeland security, harbor patrol, SWAT team – $250,000
- Removed officers from Navigation Team, ensuring homeless neighbors are not retraumatized by armed patrol officers – $216,000
- Reduced staff budget through recognizing expected attrition – $500,000
- Reduced administrative costs, including salaries, community outreach, public affairs
- Cut $56,000 from training and travel expenses
- Cut recruitment and retention – $800,000
- Transferred victim advocates from SPD to Human Services Department – $377,000 impact
- Removed two sworn officer positions from the 911 Emergency Call Center