(Natural News) Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on June 24 that she would be slashing the budget of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) by $20 million, a five percent cut from a $400 million budget. Durkan says that the budget cut aims to “rebalance” the city’s expenses, which have been devastated due to spending on the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The SPD are set to experience the largest budget cut among all other department reductions in the budget rebalancing.
The rebalancing document the city published shows that Seattle is also considering deeper cuts into the police budget in the future. The city expects to spend around $233 million this year on the coronavirus, with much of the money going to emergency food and housing support, coronavirus testing, support for first responders, adaptations made for the city’s facilities and new hires made to help handle the crisis. The city has also stated that they will be focusing much of their spending on the needs of the city’s most vulnerable Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
In total, Durkan’s office said that the city needs to find $378 million to balance the budget, due to the aforementioned spending on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a massive decrease in city revenue due to lockdowns and economic restrictions.
Durkan presented her proposed budget to the Seattle City Council, which is almost entirely composed of Democrats, on June 24.
Ben Noble, Seattle’s budget director, said that layoffs in most city departments will be “inevitable” by 2021. “This is the biggest financial hit the city has ever seen,” he said. “The local economy is getting smaller, significantly smaller.”
As part of the 2020 and 2021 budget, we will be looking at @SeattlePD's culture and budget. Police should not always be first people on the scene to deal with every call for help. Not every 9-1-1 call requires someone with a firearm to show up.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 23, 2020
Durkan: SPD must prepare for deeper budget cuts in the future
Along with the five percent cut to the SPD’s budget, which includes a “pause” on a $4 million project to build a new North Precinct building, Durkan has also proposed a hiring freeze on new police officers starting in 2021 until the department can come up with a “new staffing model” that reflects the community’s actual public safety needs.
Furthermore, Durkan has asked both her office and the office of SPD Chief of Police Carmen Best to prepare models by the end of July of what the department would look like if its budget were cut by 20, 30 and possibly even 50 percent in the future.
“We have to rethink and reimagine policing, including our culture and budget,” said Durkan on Monday, June 22. “We are asking police officers more and more to deal with all the problems society has created.”
In response to the possibility of budget cuts, Best wrote a “letter to the community,” wherein she stated that her department is reviewing which of its responsibilities it feels it can pass on to other agencies or completely hand off to their respective communities.
With regards to reinvesting the SPD’s resources into the community, Best agrees with Durkan, saying that the SPD have long been vocal about their concern that officers are being asked to play larger and larger roles in the community, and that people have no choice but to turn to police officers because of a series of failures by other city safety nets, many of which do not receive enough funding.
Listen to this episode of the Health Ranger Report, a podcast by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, as he talks about how the Democratic Party is planning to abolish police departments in America’s largest cities, plunging these already crime-ridden urban areas into total chaos.
Durkan’s budget cuts a “down payment on a promise” to Black Lives Matter
Andre Taylor, leader of the organization Not This Time! which is working to reduce police violence in Seattle, called Durkan’s cut to the police budget a “down payment on a promise” and that the mayor is putting her money where her mouth is by partially acceding to the Black Lives Matter movement’s demand to defund and abolish the police department. (Related: Black Lives Matter is spreading: Number of protests in rural America growing.)
Many of the Black Lives Matter rioters, who have been the dominant voice in Seattle since the beginning of the engineered civil unrest, have said that the five percent budget cut is not enough. Their demand is that the SPD’s budget be cut by 50 percent, or around $200 million. This is part of a massive defunding campaign that has rocked the nation, and has resulted in many other cities considering budget cuts for police or the abolition of police departments altogether.
Durkan’s proposed budget cuts, while supposedly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, have also come amid heightened tensions and civil unrest over the engineered rioting in the city that followed the death of George Floyd, along with the illegal occupation of six city blocks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), an area from which the SPD retreated from during the height of the protests in early June.