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Former Seattle police chief Carmen Best calls proposed budget cuts 'highly reckless'

Ex-SPD Chief Carmen Best, now a KING 5 law enforcement analyst, questioned a proposed $5.4 million cut to the police department when the city is down 200 officers.

Seattle's former Police Chief Chief Carmen Best is among those now openly questioning the city council's proposed $5.4 million in police cuts.

The Seattle City Council is discussing whether to shave millions more of the public safety budget, at a time when the department says it is down nearly 200 officers.

"All of that money matters in terms of having resources in the field, and to arbitrarily take it at this juncture, it's highly reckless in some ways," said Best, now a KING 5 law enforcement analyst.

Best said the Seattle council's latest budget discussion — to remove $5.4 million — will take the department in the wrong direction.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold said the proposed cut is an adjustment from a late-year budget increase in 2020.

"I believe that the council actually approved a $5.4 million increase in the police department's budget late last year in recognition that they had overspent last year," Herbold said. "We did over increase overtime spending for the department. And now we want to have a conversation about whether and how to adjust the budget in 2021."

The conversation comes at a moment in time when there are concerns about a rise in hate crimes on Asian Americans. Mayor Jenny Durkan has promised additional patrols.

RELATED: Puget Sound rallies call for stop to anti-Asian hate crimes

KING 5 asked Durkan on Wednesday how the city would add patrols with a declining number of police officers. Durkan acknowledged that the loss of police officers is a problem.

"We absolutely have lost way too many officers," Durkan said. 

Best said the city should address those concerns.

"The city's population has grown by 150,000 in a decade, and yet, the police force has been reduced by almost 20%," Best said. "That's not a way to provide public safety without some plan with how are you going to answer those calls for service, how are you going to address these people in crisis?"

The next meeting on the budget issue is scheduled for Tuesday on Zoom.

RELATED: City, business leaders call loss of nearly 200 Seattle Police Department officers a crisis