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Seattle City Council hears public testimony on defunding SPD

The Seattle City Council heard three hours of public comment on whether or not to defund SPD by 50% in the city's budget. A budget vote is expected Aug. 3.

SEATTLE — Much of a day-long debate about the city of Seattle's budget on Wednesday focused on the calls to defund the police department.

"I want to voice my full support for defunding the Seattle Police Department's remaining budget for 2020 by 50% at least, approximately $85 million, and diverting those funds specifically to the black community," said one resident during a virtual meeting.

A rally and march were held on Monday in Seattle supporting Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now Coalition's plan to defund police by 50%. 

The organizations were calling for the following: 

  • Replacing current 911 operations with a civilian-controlled system
  • Scaling up community-led solutions
  • Funding a community-created roadmap to life without policing
  • Investing in housing for all

RELATED: KING 5 poll: Most Washingtonians want some police funds moved to social programs

Last week, Police Chief Carmen Best sent a letter to City Council saying an immediate defunding of 50% would require an "irresponsible number of layoffs" that could mean the elimination of specialized units, the closure of precincts, and slower response times.

Wednesday's testimony lasted for three hours, with the public voicing opinions for defunding the police and against it. 

"Cutting funding does not make the city safer," one person said.

The Seattle Police Officers Guild has released a video calling for a stop to the defunding effort. SPOG also started a petition.

During public testimony, SPOG President Mike Solan said, "85% of the police budget is salary-based. Removing 50% of the police budget, you would force the city to fire up to 800 officers and crime will skyrocket."

City Council is expected to vote on the budget on August 3.

RELATED: When protesters cry 'defund the police,' what does it mean?

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