At the end of July, the Seattle City Council moved to defund the police department by cutting $3.5 million in funding for the remainder of the 2020 budget, which would result in the lay off of 100 officers and SPD command leaders receiving a 40 percent salary cut. The city council also planned to invest $17 million in public safety programs.
The city's mayor, Jenny Durken, however, delivered a blow to the city council and the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday when she vetoed the new budget.
"I continue to have concerns about council decisions to make cuts before they have a plan," Durken said during a press conference. “There’s no plans, for example, on how the city will address encampments and RVs that pose public health and safety risk without the Human Services staff who coordinate and lead these outreach efforts that were cut by this budget."
According to KOMO-TV, Durken supported cuts to the SPD, although they weren't exactly what the council voted on:
Durkan had proposed cuts worth $20 million to the police budget, and the council went along with that plan while adding in an additional $2.9 million in spending reductions.
As of Friday, the mayor and council's cuts total $23 million, which would be a 13 percent reduction to the department's remaining $127 million budget, according to the mayor's office.
The budget reduction could affect as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition.
The council's budget cut also eliminated the city Navigation Team, which removes homeless camps and provides outreach services to the homeless, along with dismantling the police Harbor Patrol, SWAT, Public Affairs and Horse Unit.
The mayor also announced that she and several council members have agreed to a COVID-19 relief package.
Durken was forced to veto the legislation because she doesn't have the power to do line item vetoes. If there was part of the budget she didn't agree with, she had to veto it and send it back to the council for changes. And that's what happened.
While Council President Lorena Gonzalez said she was "disappointed" in Durken's decision, she vowed for the council to find common ground with the mayor.
"I have to believe that we agree on more than we disagree, and I will strive to bridge the gap on our few but critical differences of opinion,” Gonzalez said in a statement. "I hope that the public knows that their elected leaders are committed to working together on achieving a long-overdue transformation of our law enforcement and criminal justice systems that have for far too long perpetuated trauma and harm on our black, brown and indigenous neighbors.”
The council, which voted 7-1 to approve the new budget, would have a majority to override the veto, assuming none of them have changed their position.
In the midst of this, after months of riots, looting, vandalism and violent crime, Seattle's Police Chief, Carmen Best, resigned, citing a lack of respect for Seattle Police Department officers.
The council is currently on recess until September, at which point they can choose to override Durken's decision, Fox News reported. The one thing Durken and the council have agreed on is providing $45 million in Wuhan coronavirus relief funding for 2020 and 2021.