Defunding Seattle Police Means Layoffs for Black Officers

Seattle police car” (CC BY 2.0) by sillygwailo

On Monday, the plan to strip up to 50 percent from the Seattle police budget has been announced. The chief of Seattle police, Carmen Best, said that drastic cuts of police budget would mean a lot of police officers, including police officers of color, would lose their jobs. According to the police union, defunding Seattle police seem more like a reckless political gesture rather than a realistic and rational solution to the problem. It would make more sense to improve the training and preparedness of the current officers than trying to send untrained social workers on the streets.

Seven out of nine members of Seattle City Council support the goal to decrease the police funding by 50 %. Only six votes are needed to overrule the Mayor’s veto. Council members Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss, Andrew Lewis, Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda, and M. Lorena Gonzalez all support the defunding.

Results of the SPD defunding

Proposed 50% defunding for 2020 means that the Seattle Police Department will not get any money in the last quarter of 2020 and big layoffs will be necessary. The chart tweeted out by SPD on Friday, showed a 43 percent reduction in Black officers, a 90 percent reduction in Mixed Race officers, a 47 percent reduction in Asian officers, and a 65 percent reduction in Hispanic/Latino officers. It also showed a 53 percent reduction in White officers, a 26 percent reduction in American Indian/Alaska Native officers, a 43 percent reduction in Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander officers, and a 53 percent reduction in officers who choose not to specify their racial or ethnic background. 

The biggest problem is that the cut has been planned without any input or engagement from the Seattle Police Department. According to Mike Solan, who is the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, nobody from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office or from the City Council has reached out to the police union for feedback about this proposal.

With such a big budget cut, SPD will have to release over 1000 employees. Most units will have to be canceled to have enough trained police officers to answer 911 calls. Investigation unit for homicides, sex offending, burglary, domestic violence, and other crimes won’t be functioning anymore. The same applies to SWAT teams. 

An expensive and dangerous experiment

Testing out whether crime will really go away if the police go away might be an expensive and dangerous experiment for the citizens of Seattle, according to Mike Sloan. As was seen during the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or the CHOP, the no-cop co-op did not last very long without deadly firearm shoots.

Seattle Police Officers Guild is of the opinion, that the Seattle City Council should first engage the public and Seattle police to make a detailed plan on how the safety of tax-paying Seattle citizens will be handled after the defunding of police takes place.