Seattle mayor, police chief urge slow down of police cuts

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and police Chief Carmen Best said Tuesday they are against proposals by City Council members to reduce the police force by as many as 100 officers this year through layoffs and attrition.

In a remote news conference, Durkan and Best urged the council to hold off on additional cuts until the 2021 budget, arguing reductions would be too hard to make right away and ill-advised.

The Seattle Times reports that has been the stance of the mayor and police chief since Black Lives Matter demonstrations began in Seattle following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Defunding advocates say the department’s budget is bloated and reforms have failed and to stop police killings.

Durkan and Best objected last month when seven of nine council members agreed to support a “defunding” road map laid out by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now. Those community coalitions have asked the council to cut 50% of the Police Department’s remaining 2020 budget and 50% of its entire 2021 budget.

A package unveiled last week by council members Lisa Herbold, Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena González would include 70 layoffs and assume 30 unplanned resignations. The council members have said the moves would set the stage for more dramatic changes.

They also have acknowledged their proposals would reduce the Police Department’s $409 million budget by only $3 million this year, assuming the layoffs would be delayed until November by collective bargaining.

“Our proposals are a modest reflection of our recognition of the calls from the community,” Herbold said Tuesday.

Defunding advocates have scheduled a march for Wednesday, when the council’s budget committee may vote.