So, what do the budget cuts concern? A number of divisions within the department, like the 911 system, parking enforcement, and victims’ advocates will shift into civilian control instead of policing. The budget reduced funds for police overtime and training.
In a Nov. 23 statement, Durkan wrote that she suggested, “thoughtful reductions to the Seattle Police Department that coincide with increased and continued investments in alternatives to sworn officer responses including expanding Health One and continuing to invest in mental health professionals and Community Service Officers.”
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda issued a statement on the 2021 budget and talked about how the council considered asks of the movement when making decisions. She wrote in part:
“Over the course of the last 2 budget cycles as Chair, I have set out to do 3 things in response to the movement for Black Lives: 1) downsize the SPD’s budget, 2) invest in community alternatives that produce healthy outcomes for our BIPOC communities, and 3) not grow the size of the force in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders, and thanks to the amendment on Monday, the budget no longer reflects new net hires. We have much more work to do, and we must get to work on those next steps now.”
And outside of the police department, as Mosqueda stressed, the budget focused on structural changes to help those most in need. For example, increased aid to the city’s unhoused population, tiny home villages, investments in BIPOC communities, and increasing both child care and food insecurity programs. As she put it, “The investments we made are real dollars for real people.”
On the other hand, Sawant, who opposed the budget, said in a statement that in terms of the overall big-picture, “the budget that Democratic Party Councilmembers have approved today is a budget that deeply fails working people and marginalized communities, including working-class and poor communities of color.”
Still, as reported by local outlet KOMO News, Sawant said, “Every reduction in the bloated police budget reflects a real tangible victory in the movement,” which is certainly true.
You can check out my colleague Cara Zelaya’s video on what defunding the police means below, as well as this explainer on the basics.