Durkan proposes 5% SPD budget cut while activists want 50%

SEATTLE — “We need to rethink and reimagine policing, including our culture and budget.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan made that statement Monday, announcing that she asked the Seattle Police Department to prepare budget models showing the community what cuts of 20-, 30- or 50% might look like.

Durkan is actually proposing a 5% cut to the SPD, a $20 million reduction for the rest of the year.

The proposed cuts include a hiring freeze and pausing planning for a new North Precinct.

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SPD would face the largest cuts of any city department as the mayor addresses a $300 million revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, some people calling to comment during a city council budget meeting supported defunding SPD by 50%.

The council’s budget chair, Teresa Mosqueda, agreed with those callers, saying money should go to what she calls community-based “upstream” solutions that prevent the need for police.

“If we take the time to thoughtfully reinvest in Black and brown communities, we will see a decline in public safety calls,” she said.

Mosqueda is conducting an “inquest” into SPD’s budget, in part because of the department’s response to recent demonstrations for racial equality and social justice. Initially, SPD used tear gas on protestors. It was the first time in two decades the department had taken such action.

On Wednesday, city officials revealed SPD spent $6.3 million on overtime during the demonstrations.

Durkan’s budget is focused on spending for COVID-19 response and on making cuts to offset the revenue shortfall caused by the pandemic.

City council members said they want more revenue.

They are considering two competing plans for payroll taxes, which are expected to bring in between $200 million and $500 million per year.

Click here to watch the full presentation on the city’s updated proposal, unexpected spending and revenue shortfall.