Defund the police: Seattle homicides highest in a decade as council slashes police budget
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is getting ready to sign a new budget that will slash police funding by 18%. She plans to do this even though Seattle homicides are at the highest they’ve been in over a decade. The Seattle Police Department has had dozens of officers quit already and now they will be hit even harder by this new mandate.
City Council members overwhelmingly voted last week to cut funds for police training and overtime and to eliminate dozens of vacant positions within the Seattle Police Department after months of contentious talks. The reductions fall short of the 50% that local activists demanded amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. However, with a hiring freeze in place, there are nowhere near enough police officers to handle a city the size of Seattle.
The number of officers on the force there is the lowest its been since 1990 and the city has grown by 44% since then. Stores are boarded up all over the city with graffiti everywhere. Crime is rampant and Seattle is no longer the city it once was.
The council also decided to transfer parking enforcement officers, mental health workers, and 911 dispatchers out of the police department.
“I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing,” Durkan said in a statement. “We have rightly put forward a plan that seeks to ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs throughout the city while acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of color, particularly Black communities.”
“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget than occurred this summer which led to the resignation of former SPD Chief Carmen Best,” Durkan said in the statement.
The budget also directs the city to invest up to $100 million for projects in communities of color and the hiring of 100 police recruits next year. However, it does not address the police shortage being currently experienced in the streets of Seattle.
Seattle reached the grim milestone of its 55th murder this year on Monday. It was the fatal shooting of a man in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood. Another man was also shot in the same incident but survived.
As in other big, Democratically-led cities, Seattle has seen a marked rise in violent crime. The city recorded 28 homicide victims last year and 32 in 2018, according to police figures. Going back to 2008, the last year of data available, murders never topped 30 prior to 2018. The rise in crime is in line with Democratic leadership and the rise of violent leftist groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, not to mention the Defund the Police movement.
Burglaries have also risen. This year there have been 8,418 burglary incidents, compared to 7,634 in 2019.
The calls for defunding the police and cutting their numbers in Seattle intensified after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis while in police custody over the summer. That same month, demonstrators occupied several blocks in the city’s Capital Hill neighborhood, dubbing it the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area or CHOP.
There were a variety of violent incidents within that cordoned-off zone, including a fatal shooting, vandalism, rape, theft, and other forms of violence that angered nearby residents and business owners.
SPD Chief Carmen Best stepped down in August after disagreements with city leaders over the potential slashing of police budgets and proposals to cut approximately 100 officers.
“I believe 100% that they were putting me in a position destined to fail. Cutting a police department that already had low staffing numbers, that was already struggling to keep up with the demand,” Best said after she stepped down. “How are we going to provide for adequate public safety in that environment?”