Seattle council shifts money saved by officer departures
Seattle — The Seattle City Council has voted to move some of the $15 million in savings related to police officer departures to community-based programs.
The police department will keep about $10 million for technology projects and other expenses, while about $5 million will be invested elsewhere in what Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda described as a “hybrid approach.”
The plan will partially address commitments the council made in 2020 to decrease the Police Department’s budget during 2021, The Seattle Times reported. The vote was 8-1, with Councilmember Kshama Sawant calling for the department to keep less money.
The council’s midyear budget legislation somewhat jibes with a plan proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan over the summer, though a Durkan-backed request that some money be allocated for officer hiring and retention incentives was rejected.
Police spending was back in the spotlight Monday because more officers are leaving this year than City Hall budgeted for, yielding the estimated $15 million in salary savings.
In November, Durkan and the council decreased the Police Department’s budget by tens of millions of dollars for 2021, reversing a growth trend. But they also cleared the department to hire new officers.
The council is also no longer pursuing layoffs of officers with records of misconduct, citing legal barriers.