by: Essex Porter Updated:
With crime a big issue in Seattle's mayoral race, Mike McGinn today proposed to spend more than a million dollars for new police officers in next year's budget. "Today we are announcing funding for 15 new police officers in the 2014 proposed budget," the mayor said. The additional officers will cost approximately $1.6 million.
But in light of high-profile crimes, like the recent bus shooting downtown and new FBI numbers showing an increase in aggravated assaults, the question is whether 15 additional officers are enough
"There's always reason to have additional officers," Mayor McGinn said. "We can use the additional officers, but of course there's multiple things in the budget that also affect public safety as well."
For example, police said the assailant in Friday's fatal Pioneer Square stabbing is mentally ill. Now the mayor is planning a summit with business leaders to perhaps raise local taxes to pay for more mental health treatment facilities.
But we asked the mayor about criticism that the city has spent money on things like bike lanes that he could have spent on mental health. "We lose 20 people a year," McGinn said. "You know, bikers, drivers, passengers, walkers are killed every year. That's a public-safety issue."
McGinn blamed his challenger in the mayoral race, state Senator Ed Murray, for not stopping the mental health cuts in the state budget. Murray rejects the criticism, saying, "What's happening here is not a failure of the state, what's happening here is a failure of this mayor to assume his responsibility for public
Murray hasn't said yet how many officers he would add to the force if he is elected. "We need to reform the department, we need a police chief we need to increase the number of police that we have," he said.