Plan to cut 80 vacant police officer positions from Seattle city budget faces pushback

SEATTLE — Last week, the Seattle City Council approved a budget proposal that eliminates 80 vacant Seattle police officer positions.

The $11.4 million cut is intended to address the ongoing budget deficit.

“I’m pissed,” said Rudy Pantoja, who lives in North Seattle. “It’s not right.”

The council voted on Nov. 29 to pass the proposal.

The council members who voted against the budget were Sara Nelson, Alex Pedersen and Kshama Sawant.

After the budget was passed, Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda’s team released a statement that said in part: “Despite a grim budget forecast, the Chair stayed true to our values and invested in public safety with a racial equity and justice lens — despite the rhetoric this budget decreases community safety investments.”

Pantoja said he was disappointed in the council’s actions.

“Who are they talking to? Are they actually talking to the merchants and the tenants?” he asked. “It’s a rough time for families and for people like us who care about our city who live in our city to have 80 officers, 80 positions cut at a time when we really need to have an emphasis on safety.”

Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, said that this move is a step in the wrong direction.

“It means less police officers that could protect Seattle’s community and to me, this is a money grab to fulfill unproven endeavors that, at the end of the day, won’t be as viable as we know it to be having police officers that give the community a sense of feeling safe,” Solan said.

He said the department can’t fill those positions because there isn’t enough support for officers and they’re working under an expired contract.

“Lack of public support from elected officials and number two this lack of a fair competitive wage contract for police officers that work for this city,” Solan said. “I could see some of their point in trying to put that money into projects they feel could fulfill their public safety needs but I think that’s ill-advised because we know what’s proven, what works over time to make people feel safe, and that’s qualified professional people in uniform.”

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