Embed from Getty Images

A majority of Seattle City Council members now say they agree with a high-level proposal by advocates to defund the Police Department by 50% and reallocate the dollars to other community needs. If enacted the budget would result in a reduction in number of police serving the city.

Council members Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis added support Thursday to a road map set out by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now.

They joined colleagues Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena González, who previously backed the push to reduce the Police Department’s annual budget by 50% and promised quick action, while Mayor Jenny Durkan has asked the council to slow down, the Seattle Times reports.

That means seven of nine council members are on board with the idea, though they have yet to say exactly how they intend to make the cuts; six votes are needed to pass budget-related legislation and to override a mayoral veto. Durkan has not backed a 50% reduction.

Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity has laid out a four point proposal for defunding the Police Department:

  • Remove Seattle’s 911 dispatchers from police control
  • Scale up community-based solutions to public safety
  • Fund a community-led process to “imagine life beyond policing.”
  • Invest in affordable housing

The aim is “defunding the Seattle Police Department and building a world where we trust and believe in community to provide the safety that we need,” Decriminalize Seattle’s Jackie Vaughn said at a news conference Thursday.

Mayor Durkan last month proposed about $20 million in Police Department cuts as part of a broader plan to close a $378 million budget hole.

In a letter Wednesday, Senior Deputy Mayor Mike Fong warned the council that major and immediate Police Department cuts could require large numbers of officers to be laid off, arguing the city isn’t ready for that scenario.

At Thursday’s news conference, defunding advocates said community organizations and practitioners — with adequate resources — can protect Seattle residents better than the Police Department in many instances.

K. Wyking Garrett, whose Africatown organization works to combat displacement by acquiring land and developing housing in the Central District, said "militarized" police responses don’t solve problems.

“Police don’t stop crime, they respond to crime,” he said. “What really prevents crime is access to resources.”

0 Comments