Seattle’s Balancing Package
Okay, let’s try this again! Welcome to Seattle’s budget committee meeting introducing the Chair’s balancing package.
- 80 “ghost cop” positions to be abrogated
- the PEOs to remain in SDOT with increased supports until a study about their final destination can be run
- many small cuts in SPD: to the retention program (although the main program passed earlier this year remains intact); to the recruitment media plan; to police equipment; elimination of the gunfire detection system (ShotSpotter); and elimination of an assistant city attorney position that was to be housed within SPD, for cuts totaling around $2.84m. These cuts were all originally funded by empty positions SPD can’t hope to fill anytime soon.
- $4m additional to LEAD, which is less than CM Herbold asked for
- $300k for a gun violence prevention pilot run at Haborview through the Regional Peacekeepers Collective, which is half of what CM Herbold asked for
- $50k to develop an Affected Person’s program for those impacted by SPD violence
- $1m to expand mental health services in schools, in answer to Seattle Student Union’s demands for $9m to improve the ratio between counselors and high school students
- the dual dispatch emergency response pilot doesn’t get any additional funding until 2024, and the expansion of CSO duties isn’t funded
- In response to the mostly peaceful George Floyd protests, SPD indiscriminately used less-lethal weapons such as tear gas, pepper spray, blast balls, and flash bangs, as well as using their bicycles as weapons and punching and kneeling on the necks of people who had been arrested. They did so night after night, at protest after protest. The OPA were contacted over 19,000 times between May 30 and the end of 2020 with complaints about police behavior at protests.
- In fact, SPD were so extreme in their behavior that the Court granted a temporary restraining order against SPD and their use of these weapons in June 2020, and then in December 2020 found SPD in contempt for protests in the preceding August and September.
- The City of Seattle also withdrew the motion “to terminate most of the Consent Decree” on June 3. 2920 because of community outcry and SPD’s egregious use of force, a consent decree which has now been in place in Seattle for over TEN years.
- SPD were noted to be specifically targeting medics, legal observers, and journalists with violence and arrest, including journalist Andrew Buncombe, who wrote about the experience for his paper
- The protests were marked by both a lack of communication from SPD and the Mayor’s Office (for example, pertaining to the evacuation of the East Precinct, for which no one would take responsibility) and flat-out lying, for example in the case of the Proud Boys ruse executed by SPD and the SPD press conference on June 10, 2020
- The public later discovered text messages from the period in question had been illegally deleted from the Chief of Police’s phone, the Mayor’s phone, the Fire Chief’s phone, and several other SPD command staff members’ phones. Former Chief Best later admitted she had gone in and manually deleted some of her texts
- A strong coalition of protesters came together to demand cuts to SPD and investments to address the root causes of violence, meet community members’ basic needs, and begin to address the systemic racism that has been at play in our city since its founding