City Council cuts Seattle police budget, drawing criticism

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has approved a 2022 budget that cuts police department spending from previous years, drawing criticism from people who say city voters earlier this month endorsed more spending on public safety.

In an 8-1 vote Monday, the council approved a $355.5 million budget for the department, saying there are no cuts functionally for SPD. KOMO reports the budget includes funds to hire 125 officers in 2022.

But the police department’s budget is smaller compared to years past. In 2021 budget was $363 million and in 2020 is was $401.8 million.

Outgoing Mayor Jenny Durkan criticized the new spending plan.

“Now is not the time to both be cutting officers also but every time council acts, they’re telling officers that are here today if they’re valued or not,” Durkan said. “Mayor-elect Harrell ran on adding more officers and I’m trying to set him up for success as much as I can.”

Bruce Harrell easily won the race for Seattle mayor, running on a platform of increased spending on police services and criticizing opponents who advocated “defunding” the police.

The new budget includes funds for 1,357 officers and SPD says right now, there are 1,120 officers on the force—which leaves 237 open jobs.

The Downtown Seattle Association also was displeased by the council’s budget.

“Seattle voters sent a clear message earlier this month that they want city government to prioritize addressing homelessness and improving public safety,” the group said in a statement.

But groups like Decriminalize Seattle praised the budget reduction, saying its time to invest in communities.

Angélica Cházaro from Decriminalize Seattle said: “I want to live in a city equipped to address the current and coming crises without resorting to armed cops to protect the rich at the expense of the poor.”