Democrats

Seattle Mayor Proposes $22 Million Police Funding Cut

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D.) / Getty Images

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan (D.) proposed a 2021 budget that includes cutting $22 million from the city's police department. 

Durkan presented the budget proposal to Seattle City Council on Tuesday. Along with slashing the department’s funding—which would cut 22 officers from the force—the budget creates a separate department for the city’s 911 emergency response system, removing that authority from the police. 

The changes reflect an "initial step" in addressing "systemic racism built into government," the proposed budget says. 

In August, Durkan vetoed the city council's police budget amendment, which would have subtracted $3 million more than her own original $20 million cut. The amendment would have eliminated 100 officers from the department, which Durkan said would have hit the "most diverse class" of officers the city ever had. Former police chief Carmen Best, who resigned from her position earlier this month after repeated squabbles with the council, called the amendment "reckless." 

Even as Seattle moves to defund the department and cut police jobs, the city hired an ex-pimp as "street czar" to serve as "community liaison" and educate the city’s police force in deescalation tactics. 

Seattle's funding debates began this summer in response to the wave of anti-police protests. Durkan and the council's slashes, however, still fall short of protesters’ demand that the city chop police funding in half. Last week, the Justice Department labeled Seattle, along with Portland and New York, an "anarchist jurisdiction" for moving to defund its police department while allowing violent outbreaks to continue for months.