Seattle City Council scales back police funding in new 2021 budget; Durkan expected to sign into law

After months of deliberation amid a politically turbulent year, the Seattle City Council voted Monday evening to pass their final 2021 budget which included investments in a new 币圈app都有哪些homeless outreach program, tiny 币圈app都有哪些home villages and most notably an 18% cut to the Seattle Police Department's budget.

The Council voted 8-1 on the $6.5 billion budget after a last-minute proposal from Councilmember and Select Budget Committee Chair Teresa Mosqueda aimed to cut an additional $2 million in SPD salary funding based on the accelerating attrition of officers in the past few months. The council had expected to see only 7 officers leave the force in October, when in reality 23 left.

Based on those attrition statistics, Council President Lorena Gonzalez said that she expects departures from SPD "will continue at an increased rate" and raised the council's projection of attritions to 114 for 2021.

Conveniently, SPD projected 114 hires next year, making the department equal in hires and departures.

But those numbers are unpredictable, as an analysis from Kevin Schofield from SCC Insight found that "there’s no reason to believe any attrition prediction for next year." Last week, the council rejected a proposal intended to block more than 100 police officers from being hired in 2021.

The 2021 SPD budget cuts included $35 million in direct cuts to things like overtime and training and $40 million in transfers, moving SPD functions to other city departments including parking enforcement officers, 911 dispatch and the emergency management department.

Overall, the cuts and transfers represent an approximate 18% decrease from the department's 2020 budget.

While the cuts fell short of protester's demand to defund SPD by 50%, there were some significant changes. The $40 million in transfers helps meet protesters and other racial justice organizations — including King County Equity Now and Decriminalize Seattle — demands to civilianize 911 and move functions out of the department.

"We here in Seattle are one of the few cities in America that is still in active pursuit of reforming our public safety model, achieving divestment from our militarized police department and reinvesting those dollars in BIPOC communities and a civilian-led public safety system," said Gonzalez.

The budget also includes new investments for a new 币圈app都有哪些homeless outreach team to replace the former Navigation Team, a $20 increase in car-tab fees for transportation improvements and $7 million to fund tiny 币圈app都有哪些home villages.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant was the only member who voted against the budget in favor of the People's Budget and Solidarity Budget which aimed to defund SPD by 50% and impose a $500 million Amazon Tax.

Sawant emphasized that the cuts to SPD only represent an 8.2% reduction to the budget when not counting transfers from the department, which she said "do not represent actual cuts." Sawant has opposed every budget since 2014.

"Taken as a whole, the budget that Democratic Party Councilmembers have approved today is a budget that deeply fails working people and marginalized communities, including working-class and poor communities of color," Sawant said in a statement following the vote.

While she has clashed with the council over efforts to defund SPD in the summer, Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement Monday night saying that she would sign the 2021 budget into law, praising the 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."

"I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing. 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," Durkan said.

While the city faces a budget shortfall brought on by the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, Durkan also stated that she is confident that President-elect Joe Biden will provide more federal aid in his administration's COVID-19 response.

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