Chief resigns after Seattle City Council approves $3 million cut to police budget, elimination of 100 officers

by Laura Mize · Aug 11th, 2020 10:36 am
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Last Updated Aug 12th, 2020 at 9:27 pm

Seattle's City Council approved a plan on Monday to reduce the budget of the city's police department by about $3 million and remove 100 officer positions from the force.

Chief Carmen Best, the city's first black female police chief, tendered her resignation the same night. She will no longer lead the department, effective September 2.

The council's plan will reduce the number of officers dedicated to homeland security, Seattle's harbor, Seattle schools, the emergency call center, dispersing homeless camps in the city, and mounted patrol. It also cuts the department's budget for initiatives meant to help sustain a positive relationship with the community, including community outreach and public affairs.

The plan also calls for laying off 32 patrol officers, as well as allowing a further reduction to the number of department employees through attrition. Under the plan, Best's salary would have been cut by 40%.

Only one member of the council voted against the proposal, saying it was not aggressive enough. Other members hailed the plan as a first step.

"While we can't do everything in this summer rebalancing package, we have set the path forward for tremendous work in front of us as a council and as a city," Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda said.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan had urged the council to delay significant cuts to the department until 2021 budget discussions. She already has proposed removing several units from the department next year, including the emergency call center and parking enforcement, which would reduce the department's budget by about $75 million.

Durkan and Best have noted that the council's mandated layoffs will largely affect newer officers, many of whom are people of color.

Best has vocally opposed plans to reduce the city's 1,400-officer police force, citing concerns for public safety.


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