Spencer Pauley | The Center Square
Seattle has been in the process of “reinventing” its police department over the last few years as crime has been on the rise. Critics argue that the two trends are firmly related.
According to city data, crime increased in 2021 and 9-1-1 response times are at historic lows. The city has scaled back the budget for law enforcement and moved many functions out of the police department.
“The violent crime rate reached a 14-year high in 2021,” the Seattle Police Department stated in its 2021 final crime report.
“What you are seeing in Seattle is disaster. This is pure disaster. Crime is out of control in Seattle,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in an email to The Center Square. “They cannot keep personnel. It’s been a really bad thing for the citizens.”
The 2021 budget eliminated 167 full-time positions within the police department, a 7.6% reduction over 2020.
The 2021 budget proposal stated, “the 2021 Proposed Budget for the Seattle Police Department outlines a solid first step in reinventing policing and reimagining community safety. The budget reduces the size of SPD’s sworn force, [and] transfers functions from SPD that are better performed in a more civilianized practice.”
That budget brought SPD’s officer count to a 30-year low with less than 1,000 officers in the department.