Seattle City Council approves cuts to 100 police positions, 1 percent of budget

Seattle City Council on Monday approved measures that would cut up to 100 police positions and 1 percent of the department’s budget.

The proposal, which was opposed by Protestants of Black Lives Matter and opposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) and Police Chief Carmen Best, would take less than $ 4 million from the department’s $ 400 million annual budget The Associated Press reported.

Seven out of eight councilors supported the proposals, with only councilor Kshama Sawant voting against, saying they did not do enough to defend police.

Several lawmakers stress the measures served as a starting point for police reform, as demonstrations in the city have continued since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police station in late May, according to the news service.

Protestants had called for a 50 percent reduction in officers within the Seattle Police Department, which currently numbers 1,400 officers.

The council also approved a drop in the annual salary of Best’s and other police chiefs and removed officers from a team that disperses camps where homeless people remain, according to the AP.

The mayor and Best had urged councilors to discuss cuts within the 2021 city budget instead of running talks within the currently proposed budget.

Durkan and Best had also argued that cuts within the department were likely to affect newer officers, who are normally hired from Black and brown communities, which could put the city at risk of lawsuits, the AP reported.

A Durkan spokesman said in a statement that the mayor “remains concerned” about the council’s approach to job cuts, including those “involved in outreach and involvement” with those experiencing homelessness, and salary of police chiefs.

“It is unfortunate that the Council has refused to engage in a collaborative process to work with the Mayor, Chief Best and members of the community to develop a budget and policy that responds to the needs of the community, while they account for – and not only acknowledge – the important labor and legal implications involved in transforming Seattle’s police department, ‘the spokesman said.

Durkan had reportedly drafted a proposal last month to reduce the police department’s budget by about $ 75 million in next year’s budget by shifting responsibilities such as press enforcement and the department’s 911 call center, according to the AP.