Seattle City Council advance plans to defund SPD

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council advanced plans on Wednesday to defund the police department, passing several amendments targeting staffing at SPD.

The council rejected a proposal by Kshama Sawant to cut half of the department's remaining budget for 2020, in part because the police union contract prevents immediate layoffs.

Council members seek a reduction of about 100 officers in the coming months but promise deeper cuts in 2021 as the city rethinks its public safety system.

"We are going to continue to work to right-size the department," said Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda.

Amendments advanced Wednesday include reducing the number of officers working the Harbor Patrol, SWAT unit and public affairs office.

The council wants to eliminate the mounted horse patrol and school resource officers.

The council also took aim at the city's Navigation Team, which critics say unfairly sweeps up people in homeless camps.

After first voting to eliminate police officers on the team, the council voted 5-4 to effectively shut down much of the team's work.

Supporters of Seattle police have not shown up much for public comment before the council, but they are planning a rally on Sunday, organized by the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

The union reports it has collected 150,000 signatures on a petition against defunding.

Monday will be a big day for the debate, as the council goes through more amendments and then takes the final votes on what members say is their first step toward defunding SPD.