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Seattle mayor slams 50% defunding of police and announces $76 million budget cut in 2021

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is blasting the city council's plan to cut the police department’s budget by 50% and instead proposed transferring some police functions.

SEATTLE — A total of $76 million will be cut out of the Seattle Police Department's 2021 budget, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday.

That includes transferring $56 million out of the department's budget and moving some responsibilities to other departments, including parking enforcement. Another $20 million will be cut by not expanding the police force in 2021 and reducing overtime.

Seattle police’s budget is currently about $400 million.

The announcement comes after calls from at least seven of nine council members saying they support cutting the department's budget by half and reallocating money to other services.

Mayor Durkan said that while there is a "historical opportunity" to reform the department, changes need to be based on facts and data. She said those on the council who've committed to cutting police funding have done so with "no analysis" and "without a plan."

Durkan said she would veto any drastic cuts the council approves. 

WATCH: Seattle officials discuss budget changes to the police department

Police Chief Carmen Best previously said defunding the police department by 50% is simply unrealistic. On Monday, she said the consideration to drastically cut the department's budget is "reckless." 

RELATED: What would defunding Seattle Police look like? Former prosecutor weighs in

"I do not believe we should be asking the people of Seattle to test out a theory, that crime goes away if police goes away. That is completely reckless," Chief Best said.

The council members who have shown support for cutting the police budget by 50% are Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda, M. Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss, and Andrew Lewis. 

Sawant said the mayor and chief were “gaslighting” the public, while Gonzalez called it “spin." Mosqueda is targeting an August 3 vote for legislation, which means a lot would have to be sorted out in a short amount of time.

The push by activists and the council to defund the SPD also comes at the same time as the city faces an overall budget crisis, with a shortfall caused by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Seattle police chief says 50% budget cut is 'not realistic or rational'

The Downtown Seattle Association issued the following statement Monday: 

“Calls by a majority of the City Council to immediately reduce our police spending by 50% without a plan or a process is not leadership or governance; it’s a recipe for chaos in our communities. The important work to restructure policing and reexamine how we provide community safety will not happen overnight, and deserves more thoughtful and responsible planning. This work cannot be accomplished in the two-week budgeting exercise that is in front of Council.  Mayor Durkan and Chief Best have outlined a reasonable and responsible timeline and action plan to examine the roles and responsibilities of SPD.   

We support bringing more voices to the table and look forward to working with communities across the city to ensure that this vision of a safe city for everyone becomes a reality. We also hope to see that all associated city investments are linked to tangible health and safety outcomes for all, with a robust commitment to tracking and metrics. Safe and healthy neighborhoods are critical for our small businesses, arts and cultural institutions and the city to bounce back from this recession and thrive again.

We must ensure that our values are represented and reflected in the systems that we create, not just the systems we dismantle. As we outlined in two published reports on the criminal justice system, there are many critical elements of our systems and societal safety net that need to be addressed for the safety and health outcomes we desire. This work demands we move beyond slogans and work together on solutions for everyone.” – Downtown Seattle Association


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