Seattle’s Murder Rates At Record High But The City Set To Defund

Homicides in Seattle, Washington, hit a 26-year high after the city council defunded the police. A police exodus crippled the department and voters so much that the city responded by electing a pro-police mayor and a Republican city attorney. The movement was a failure, yet the council just voted to defund the police once again.

Police dismantling is not a new agenda. By a 6-3 vote, the council passed total funding for the police department’s hiring plan but permanently defunded 80 police positions in already understaffed departments. Democratic council members denied the cuts, saying the Seattle Police Department will be fully funded in 2023.

Mayor Bruce Harrell saw the police department had no way of meeting its hiring goals of 200 officers next year and offered to cut police funding temporarily next year. His budget did support a hire of 120 new officers, but feelings of uncertainty that it could be done amassed. Cutting funds temporarily would save money while giving the SPD time to rebuild by hiring new officers.

Seattle City Council saw an opportunity to shrink the department instead. While the new hire staff plan will be fully funded, the remaining positions in the department were cut. Council members Sarah Nelson and Alex Pederson voted against the budget as concerns loomed about public safety. Nelson said, “I believe eliminating these positions does reinforce a ‘defund’ narrative that got us here.”

Leftist council members disagreed with the criticism. Council member Lisa Herbold accused Nelson of misinformation and said that supporters of police funding are the real problem. Herbold said the council had funded the SPDs hiring budget for the third year in a row. Herbold said the arguments between council members hurt retention in the department, and small reductions shouldn’t be as big of a deal as public safety.

Public safety doesn’t get very far without a fully funded police department in all departments. Small reductions also send a message to future new hires and recruits that the council is still working under political motivation. The president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) noted that the council members who seek to defund the police are ultimately the cause for hurt retention.