Seattle City Council voted this week to permanently remove 80 Seattle police positions despite critically low staffing levels and a record-breaking increase in homicides throughout the city.
On Tuesday, Seattle City Council approved their 2022-2023 budget which rerouted funds that were initially reserved for hiring 200 positions in the Seattle Police Department. Council slashed 80 of those positions, leaving the department with a budget for only 120, according to Seattle Times.
However, it is going to be a particularly challenging task for the Seattle Police Department to come even remotely close to hiring 120 police personnel when officers are leaving the department in droves as the city continues their war on police.
More than 500 officers have left the department since the notorious “Defund the Police” movement in 2020 following the death of George Floyd, and more are on their way out the door.
SPD’s budget has been slashed by more than $50 million since the city council began to “transform” the department in 2017. From 2020-2021, Seattle PD was defunded by $35 million, and an additional $6 million in 2022, according to KOMO News.
According to data from Seattle PD, the city has seen a record-breaking number of homicides this year, surpassing the reported amount in 2021, which also broke city records. From January to August of 2022, violent crimes and property crimes doubled from the previous year but fell below the reported total amount in 2021 in both September and October. Seattle’s violent crime rate hit a 14-year record in 2021, according to the department’s year-end crime report.
City Councilmember Sara Nelson voted against the budget stating, “I believe that eliminating these positions does reinforce a ‘defund’ narrative that got us here,” according to Seattle Times.
To maintain optimal public safety levels in the city, there needs to be 1,400 deployable police officers. As of November 27, the Seattle Police Department only has 881 deployable officers, according to the Seattle Police Officers Guild’s Public Safety Index.