Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday is expected to propose cutting $20 million from the city’s police department budget for the remainder of 20
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday is expected to propose cutting $20 million from the city’s police department budget for the remainder of 2020 to offset the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.
The city anticipates spending $233 million on its response to the public health challenge and economic impacts created by COVID-19, “focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] communities.”
Police will face the largest budget cut among all department reductions.
SEATTLE POLICE OFFICERS WILL ONLY ENTER CHOP IF ‘MATTER OF SIGNIFICANT LIFE-SAFETY,’ MAYOR SAYS
Seattle faces “a public health pandemic that is killing friends, families and neighbors and COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color,” the mayor’s budget proposal said.
“Now more than ever it is critical to preserving critical budget priorities that serve communities of color and underserved communities,” it continued. Seattle faces “a movement to demand anti-racist action, to divest and rethink policing, and end institutional racism.”
Durkan, a Democrat, will present her proposal to the Seattle City Council on Wednesday. A copy of the presentation was obtained by the Seattle Times beforehand and published Tuesday night.
Demonstrators occupying the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or the CHOP, have called for the police department’s budget to be slashed by 50 percent. But the mayor’s proposal accounts for just a 5 percent decrease in the police budget for the rest of the year, according to the Times.
Durkan will also ask the Seattle Police Department to prepare models of 20, 30 and 50 percent budget reductions and implement an immediate hiring freeze for all sworn officers in 2021 until a “new staffing model and plan is developed reflecting community priorities for public safety.”
SEATTLE’S CHOP HAS SEEN SHOOTINGS, VANDALISM, OTHER CRIMES AS OFFICIALS VOW TO DISMANTLE IT
This comes after the mayor vowed Monday to begin dismantling the area protesters first called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or the CHAZ, following three shootings in the area since Saturday, one of which was fatal.
In a press conference alongside Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, Durkan said officers would begin returning to the East Precinct, which was police abandoned in early June following a week of clashes with protesters in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Best has denied that the CHOP is actually a “cop-free zone,” but protesters have reportedly blocked police from responding to crimes there. The chief has said that 911 response times to reports of burglaries, rapes and other crimes have tripled in the vicinity.
In a letter addressed to the Seattle community Tuesday, Best committed to working with the community toward a “top-to-bottom redesign of the department.”
“Clearly, processes and policies are no longer enough to earn and maintain the trust of the community,” Best wrote. “What is now required is a complete re-envisioning of community safety and the police department’s role in it. The only way this will be successful is if it is driven by community.”
The mayor’s budget proposal will be introduced as the city of Seattle faces “economic devastation and job losses that have led to record unemployment, an unprecedented loss of $300 million in revenue, and community needs including food access and housing assistance.” The plan also vowed to “develop new vision of the East Precinct area in partnership with community leaders.”
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The mayor has committed to invest $100 million in BIPOC communities. The remainder of the 2020 budget will commit $5 million to mentorship programs for BIPOC youth and $500,000 to “a community engagement process on policing and community investments.”
Durkan proposed that the police department pause the allocation of planning resources — $4 million – in the 2020 budget for a new North Precinct facility, freeze spending on vehicles and IT investments, and undergo a $16 million reduction directed in rebalancing.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.