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Mayor Durkan's proposed 2022 city budget for Seattle police draws controversy

As part of her proposed city budget, Durkan wants to steer millions of dollars toward public safety and policing.

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released her budget proposal for 2022 which would have a big impact on the Seattle Police Department. 

But Seattle Police Officer Guild President Mike Solan says Durkan's budget doesn't address some of the city's most crucial problems.

As part of her proposed city budget, Durkan wants to steer millions of dollars toward public safety and policing.

"This budget ensures we have enough police officers and alternatives to police intervention,” she said.

In this budget, $2 million would go to the new Triage One Team that would provide a team of outreach and behavioral health professionals to the Seattle Fire Department to respond to wellness check calls, instead of police officers.
But the plan would also give funding to hire 125 officers for SPD, which would be a net of about 35 new officers.

The proposed budget would also add $1 million in hiring incentives for officers. And, $10 million toward community safety programs.

Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told KING 5 the combination of alternative policing programs and a focus on hiring is a step in the right direction.

"You know what you're going to get if you keep it the same, so it is time to look at other alternatives to help, particularly when there are fewer officers available to respond to calls for service,” Best said.

Solan said he wants to see more from the plan.

"Seattle's experiencing, overall, a huge spike in violent crime. To me, it's stunning,” Solan said.

The department lost more than 300 officers in the last year-and-a-half and the plan hire to on 125 is not enough, according to Solan.

"Nowhere did I hear any inferences to retaining the current officers that are providing public safety service to our city. And that has been deeply troubled,” he said.

Some community outreach groups are calling or more defunding and reinvesting in alternatives to policing. 

Choose 180 is a nonprofit organization that works to transform systems of injustice and support young people impacted by them.

"Imagine what $1.1 million in hiring incentives could equate for and living wage salaries and nonprofit organizations,” said Choose 180 Executive Director Sean Goode.

Goode told KING 5 investing in programs like Triage One is a good a step, but much more needs to be done.

“There is an uptick in violence and gun violence in particular, but the data show that we've had an increase in gun violence since 2016 throughout our region, with a small decrease in 2018. So, this is on trend. And if you look at the numbers, we haven't slowed down hiring a police officer since 2016. We've been continually increased investment in those areas,” Goode said.
"I'm not anti-police officer, I'm very grateful for folks who wake up in the morning and choose to serve in that way. What I am is interested in how we can begin to be equally source alternatives. And we can't do that unless we have a significant divestment from or the practices that haven't been proven to work.”

Choose 180 supports the Seattle Solidarity Budget, a plan created by group of nonprofit organizations and community organizers who propose an alternative way to resource public safety and public wellbeing for the City of Seattle.

“The people who have been historically marginalized and most impacted by this disease of violence are saying that there's another way forward. And the Seattle solidarity budget paints a really clear picture of what that way is,” he said. “You know what keeps us safe? We - we keep each other safe. Our ability to see each other, know each other, care for each other and acknowledge the humanity within each other. Those are safe communities. We need to create the space for more of that and police can’t solve for that, but we can, and let's resource more humanity and human services, and less policing of humans.”

Mayor Durkan is calling on Seattle City Council to approve the proposed budget.

This week, the select budget committee will meet to deliberate the proposal.