Mayor says pricetag for Seattle Police reforms is too high

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 14, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Updated Monday, May 14 at 7:19 PM

SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says federally mandated police reforms will cost the city nearly $41 million a year. That's 20 percent of the police budget.

McGinn insists it’s too costly and unrealistic. He's thinking more along the lines of a $5 million a year fix, his original estimate.

"They've given us everything they could possibly ask for and that’s very expensive. We'll come back with what’s more reasonable, then we'll start talking,” he said.

Last year, the Justice Department found Seattle Police engage in a pattern of excessive force and cited violations of citizens civil rights.

The feds want more training of officers and the hiring of more sergeants. But does that really lead to a $41 million a year price tag as the mayor claims?

"Some of these numbers are scare numbers. I’m much more focused on what we should we be doing to have sustainable and meaningful reform of policing in Seattle,” said City Councilman Tim Burgess.

On Monday, the Seattle City Council got its first briefing of the mayor's coming response to the feds. The meeting went into executive session - the public barred from the room.

In an interview, McGinn said he'd agree to a consent decree and a federal monitor, but the current terms are not do-able.

"The idea that we have to consult with a monitor before we can move rapidly to deal with issues  gives me concern as well,” he said.

The mayor knows if the city doesn't agree to the terms, the Justice Department has threatened to file a lawsuit against Seattle.

A spokesman for the Justice Department says the budget numbers being projected by the city are simply wrong. Thomas Bates says the cost of any agreement will not be remotely close to the figure cited Monday.

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