2:16 PM: Just under way, 15 minutes later than originally announced, Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best are having a news conference to “discuss the City Council’s proposed 2020 cuts to the Seattle Police Department.” Tomorrow, councilmembers are scheduled to vote on the amendments that would lay the groundwork for those cuts (here’s our Monday coverage). You can watch live via Seattle Channel‘s stream, above or here; we’ll add notes as it goes.
The mayor opens by re-stating that she had originally proposed a $20 million cut in the 2020 SPD budget, with the chief’s involvement, because of the city’s COVID-19-related budget crunch – and that they already have proposed an additional $76 million in changes for next year. She insists, “The chief and I share the goal of much of Seattle” of “reimagining policing.” Then she notes that the council has to some degree changed its tune on halving this year’s remaining SPD budget, and says that “the council is looking in the right places but in the wrong year.” She contends that the council is still proposing something “all but impossible,” an almost immediate 100-officer cut. She also contends the council’s suggestion that the chief pursue “out of order” layoffs so that those cuts wouldn’t come from the newest, most-diverse recruits would be an unimaginably red-taped process. She also says it’s short-sighted for councilmembers to cut “data-driven policing” and “implicit-bias training.”
2:28 PM: She’s all but pleading for collaboration with the council and says she spoke today with its president, Councilmember Lorena González. Then she says she’s disappointed that to date the council has not spoken with the chief, who she calls a “national leader.” Another plea to the council: “Take the time to get this right. … We will only get this right if we work together.”
2:37 PM: The chief takes the microphone and begins by saying she and SPD have “heard loud and clear” the calls for change. She defends the department as a national leader in reform “and we have more planned.” She acknowledges “we can function better (and) more equitably. … We implore you to hold us accountable.” Regarding the council’s specific proposals, she says some are good ideas but lack “a plan.” She says she can’t make dozens of layoffs all but immediately without a plan to “bridge the gap” in services that she says would result. She says it’s up to her to figure out how to deploy her staff to ensure public safety, not “granular” instructions from the council, which she calls an attempt to manage SPD’s “day to day” operations. She also brings up the council’s proposal to cut the Public Affairs Unit, which she says would slow down getting information to the public. She also says the department wants to “hear from every member of the community.”
2:55 PM: In Q&A, the chief is asked (among other things) whether she agrees with the council’s expectation that 30 officer jobs can be cut via attrition – not necessarily, she says, absent clairvoyance. Responding to another question, the mayor says she agrees the department could have a smaller “footprint” of armed officers but that takes planning. “We shouldn’t be looking just at the numbers of how many police we have (but also) we should invest in community.”
3:07 PM: The mayor wraps with a plea for “working together.”
WHAT’S NEXT: We’ll add the archived video when it’s available. Meantime, the council’s budget meeting is scheduled for 10 am tomorrow (Wednesday, August 5).
4:26 PM: Video added.