Seattle City Council Slashes Police Budget

Seattle police officer / Getty Images
November 24, 2020

The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a massive budget cut to the city's police department, which Mayor Jenny Durkan (D.) indicated she would sign next week.

As part of the 2021 fiscal year's budget, the council slashed the Seattle Police Department's funding by 18 percent. As a result, Seattle police will no longer have the authority to respond to 911 emergency calls and enforce parking violations. Overtime and training programs will be cut, and dozens of empty positions will go unfilled.

Durkan and the city council have sparred over department budget cuts since anti-police protests broke out in late May. On Monday, however, the mayor applauded the council for taking a "more deliberate and measured approach" to the police budget than it did earlier this summer. At one point, seven of the council's nine members pledged to slash police funding by 50 percent.

The Seattle Police Officers Guild said the move would lead to higher crime and homicide rates, which have already been on the rise this year.

"You're going to see crime rise," guild president Mike Solan told Seattle's King 5 news. "We're already seeing increased homicide rates that we haven't seen in decades. You're going to see longer, if not hardly any, follow-up investigations relative to … a 911 call for help."

More than 130 officers have left Seattle's police force this year, with many citing a lack of support from a "socialist" city council as the reason for their departure. Former police chief Carmen Best announced her resignation in August after the city council voted in favor of a budget cut that would have laid off 100 officers.

Seattle's anti-police protesters made national headlines for attempting to create a police-free "autonomous zone" called "CHOP" or "CHAZ." Durkan shut down the zone after four people were shot—two fatally—and several others reported being sexually assaulted there.