Mayor, city council weigh police reform amid protests, arrests, rioting

Aug 5, 2020
Written by wpengine

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council have begun deliberations on the Seattle police budget following weeks of protests, a street takeover, multiple arrests, fatal shootings and calls to “defund” law enforcement.

Durkan has released her tentative 2021 police budget proposal and the Council Budget Committee has begun hearings to determine the future of the department’s funding. Durkan’s proposal would reduce police funding an estimated $76 million.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant has submitted a budget proposal that would reduce police spending $85 million in the remainder of 2020.

The Mayor’s 2021 budget will be transmitted to City Council in September.

The Council expects to take final action on next year’s budget in November. The Council met today for further discussion of police funding.

Police funding is particularly important to retailers, many of whom are struggling with rising organized retail crime and other crimes that discourage shopping at their stores.

The Council will solicit community input over the coming weeks to reshape the police budget. Seven of the nine Councilmembers have expressed support for a 50% cut in the SPD budget.

Meanwhile, Durkan is the subject of a recall effort. Proponents of the recall oppose the use of tear gas by police to disperse protestors. A King County judge ruled against the Mayor’s efforts to prevent the recall from moving ahead. Now, recall proponents must collect more than 50,000 valid signatures from Seattle voters to get the recall on the ballot in a 2021 special election. Mayor Durkan also faces re-election next year.