(Archived video of morning Budget Committee meeting)
10:38 AM: The Seattle City Council has just reconvened as the Select Budget Committee, continuing their consideration of cuts to departments including SPD. The agenda is here, including details of what’s up for discussion/voting. The briefing meeting earlier this morning hinted at some changes to their proposals; also of note, the mayor’s office announced this morning that a new forecast predicts a worse budget crunch than previously predicted. You can watch via Seattle Channel‘s livestream above. The meeting is starting with public comment.
1:30 PM: The Budget Committee meeting has adjourned; the council is scheduled to reconvene at 2 pm for the regular weekly meeting, which will include some final votes.
2:04 PM: They’ve pushed back that start time so their staff can complete all the paperwork from the amendment votes in the budget meeting – they’re now set to restart at 2:45 pm.
5:32 PM: They’ve finished the vote that included SPD cuts. You’ll see a lot of reactions, so there’s a separate followup ahead, but one big thing of note: The council did NOT vote to “defund” SPD by anything in the vicinity of 50 percent. The cuts they approved, for SPD and other departments, are for the rest of this year, with next year’s budget-planning process beginning in a matter of weeks. They approved some SPD cuts that would total about 100 of 1,400 positions (including 30 expected to be lost by attrition) – here’s a summary from a news release sent by Council President Lorena González’s office:
Cut 32 officers from patrol – $533,000
Reduced specialized units including officers assigned to mounted unit, school resource officers, homeland security, harbor patrol, SWAT team – $250,000
Removed officers from Navigation Team, ensuring homeless neighbors are not retraumatized by armed patrol officers – $216,000
Reduced staff budget through recognizing expected attrition – $500,000
Reduced administrative costs, including salaries, community outreach, public affairs
Cut $56,000 from training and travel expenses
Cut recruitment and retention – $800,000
Transferred victim advocates from SPD to Human Services Department – $377,000 impact
Removed two sworn officer positions from the 911 Emergency Call Center
But the council also acknowledged that the authority to decide what and who to cut rests with Police Chief Carmen Best, so their stipulations are more a request than an order. They also voted to start exploring creation of a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention (the same name Minneapolis has looked at for something more sweeping) to handle functions that could be moved from SPD in the future.