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

At least seven of nine Seattle city council members said they support cutting the police department budget by 50%.

SEATTLE — Calling the idea "reckless," Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said she is against potential budget cuts to her department.

At least seven of nine Seattle city council members said they support cutting the police department budget by half and reallocating money to other services. 

"If we are asked to cut 50% of our department overnight, we will be forced into decisions that do not serve our shared long-term goal of re-envisioning community safety," Best said in a video statement.

For weeks, protesters on Capitol Hill were heard chanting "defund the police."

Best said defunding the police department by 50% is simply unrealistic.

"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," Best said.

If the SPD budget were cut this would mean job cuts, closing the southwest precinct and refocusing bike units and anti-crime teams on 911 response, she said.

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In a letter to the city council, Best wrote, in part, "these 2020 cut scenarios by the council are political gestures, however not realistic or rational solutions."

The letter went on to say "SPD is absolutely committed to transforming the department and already has started the process."

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.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also proposed cuts to the police budget, but not by 50%.

The push by activists and the council to defund the Seattle police 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.

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