Seattle City Council vote receives criticism and support

The Seattle City Council vote to rebalance the 2020 Budget is receiving both criticism and support.

Council members approved 7-1 to cut about $3.4 million from the Seattle Police Department budget.

These cuts will impact police staffing from the Navigation Team, School Resource Officers, Harbor Unit among other specialized units.

Funding will be cut from Public Affairs, training, and recruitment and from admin.

The police chief and command staff salary will also see a cut.

“I don’t think it’s very thoughtful. In some ways, it was petty and hasty, and I don’t think it’s going to deliver more just policing for black lives in the City of Seattle,” said the President and CEO Jon Scholes of the Downtown Seattle Association.

Scholes said the hasty decision is reflective of the Council’s process these past couple weeks in rebalancing the 2020 budget.

“If this is the approach we’re going to take for next year, I have growing concern that it’s not thoughtful, not deliberate and we’re not setting really clear outcomes for what we’re hoping to achieve when it comes to policing and public safety,” said Scholes.

Community activist groups and supporters of defunding the Seattle Police Department’s budget by 50 percent or more said the City Council did not do enough with Monday’s vote, while other groups working closely with the council said it’s a step in the right direction.

Isaac Joy Cameron of King County Equity Now Coalition said:

“Today, City Council inched us towards a safer future, where instead of using our limited taxpayer resources on half a million-dollar salaries for police officers, we allocate those funds towards data-driven, community-based solutions that we know prevent harm—not merely respond to it. Public safety solutions include, e.g., expanded shelter capacity and affordable housing, properly funded youth education programs, and more robust mental health services. While there is still much to do, we encourage the Council, the Mayor, and Chief Best to endorse the overwhelmingly supported process underway towards true public safety for all Seattle residents.”

Andre Taylor who is a community activist and the founder of the nonprofit Not This Time believes police accountability and reform are needed, but there needs to be a balance to support public safety.

“I don’t think eliminating all law enforcement is the issue. I think that we need to reform what it looks like bringing law enforcement into the 21st century,” said Taylor. “We need extreme change and we have the ability to bring forth that change. Credible change, but change that is beneficial for community in the long run.”

The Mayor and Seattle Police Chief are expected to hold a news conference on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. about recent announcements from the council and Chief Best reportedly set to resign from the force.