VIDEO: Mayor vetoing Seattle Police (and other) budget cuts, hoping for ‘path forward’ to work out a deal with council

(EVENING UPDATE: Archived video of briefing now viewable above)

2:06 PM: Just under way (and viewable above via Seattle Channel), Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, and Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz are holding a media briefing announced as “to discuss the Mayor’s decision regarding the 2020 rebalanced budget and the recent increase in gun violence incidents in Seattle.” The “rebalanced budget” is what the City Council finalized last week, including cuts to SPD and other city departments. We’ll add notes as this goes.

The mayor says the city expects leaders to work together and notes that she and council leaders have struck a deal on added emergency spending. She notes that the overall budget hole is $326 million but the city’s managed to launch new programs for pandemic-related relief anyway.

But she says she is vetoing the overall budget bill, amid disagreements with the council on the police and human-services budgets. (She also vetoed other spending bills including the $3 million that was to go to community organizations for researching community-safety plans.) She says that with SPD leaders, they’re examining the budget closely – what the council passed would “mire the city” in problems, maybe even lawsuits. “Alternative programs” need to be in place – not just under discussion – before current ones are cut, she says. She also expresses hope for collaboration with council leadership. (The council could override the veto. However, its 2-week end of summer break is about to begin.)

GUN VIOLENCE: Shots-fired incidents are up dramatically in the city, she says – 116 since June 1st, a 55 percent increase. (The Southwest Precinct commander has noted an increase in our area too, though smaller, as we reported earlier this week.) She talks about community programs’ role in prevention, and turns the mic over to Interim Chief-to-be Diaz.

2:20 PM: He begins with an update on 3 murder cases – including the suitcase-bodies double murder whose victims were found at Duwamish Head, mentioning what was announced yesterday – the arrest of a Burien man. (The other two cases in which arrests have just been made were not in West Seattle.) He says SPD’s homicide clearance rate since 2012 has averaged 71 percent – while the national rate is in the 60s.

Then Diaz goes into stats, saying shots-fired incidents are up nationwide as well as locally. “We have to stop the shootings, the injuries, the dying right now,” he says. “We need the entire city to come together and end gun violence.” He makes way for Chief Best, who says this is probably her last media briefing “for the city of Seattle.” She asks everyone in the city to “please support Chief Adrian Diaz” in his new role. “Support him, support each other, let’s make sure we have good community safety going forward.” The mayor gives the chief a bouquet of flowers, then it’s on to Q&A.

First: The mayor’s asked how she’ll try to work out a deal on the police budget with the council. She says the main sticking points are the elimination of the Navigation Team, the leadership salary cuts, and the proposed 100-officer reduction, but she has hope for collaboration. On followup, she says that “they’ve agreed to sit down and talk about those things.” Regarding next year’s budget – she’ll be sending a plan to the council in just a month – she says the discussions will have to continue into next year. She also promises “the community” – not just advocacy groups – will have a significant say.

In response to another question, she says she hasn’t been talking to the police union. Then: Does she see a smaller police department in the future? Maybe, maybe not – it could be a smaller department with more patrol officers, for example, after some functions move to other departments. On the final question, she reiterated that she’s hopeful there’s a “path forward” to work out something with the council. She says the council’s impending break shouldn’t complicate matters as they have a month or so to deal with a veto.

2:58 PM: The briefing concludes. We’ll substitute the archived video above when it’s available.

EVENING UPDATE: The video is added.

50 Replies to "VIDEO: Mayor vetoing Seattle Police (and other) budget cuts, hoping for 'path forward' to work out a deal with council"

  • Pete August 21, 2020 (2:36 pm)

    Finally the adults in the room are speaking up.

    • Jim August 21, 2020 (3:03 pm)

      Let’s hope the City Council can hear it.

    • Sail August 21, 2020 (4:11 pm)

      Exactly.  Finally someone shows some sense. 

      • Mark August 21, 2020 (6:11 pm)

        Finally.  Lisa needs to get on board or resign.  Her chasing Best off is so reprehensible.

  • Mj August 21, 2020 (2:58 pm)

    My neighbor is a cop and says morale is at an all time low.  Many officers are leaving for other agencies, likely the best performers.  The 100 officer reduction may happen via officers taking other jobs where they get some respect!

    • WSB August 21, 2020 (3:07 pm)

      30 of the envisioned 100 cuts were expected to come from attrition.

      • Mike August 21, 2020 (3:21 pm)

        That’s 30 that need to be replaced, not eliminated.

        • Yes August 21, 2020 (4:17 pm)

          yes, replaced with younger officers that want change. 

  • K to the F August 21, 2020 (3:01 pm)

    I truly hope, especially to the benefit of our BIPOC neighbors, this still truly means we as a city will dramatically reduce the responsibilities of police and put those non-violent, non-investigative needs in the hands of orgs and people who don’t carry assault rifles or batons. That’s what “defund” has always been about. Removing the oppression that often comes with routine police responses and letting officers do more with less.

    • Neighbor August 21, 2020 (3:23 pm)

      I think a lot of us are for rethinking policing and reassigning certain types of calls to someone other than the police. The concern I have with the council’s approach is exactly what the mayor called out- someone else has to be in place to take over all of those things before the police are defunded. To defund first and say we’ll figure out later who should handle everything is completely backwards, and just feels like a recipe for disaster.

      • Jim August 21, 2020 (4:46 pm)

        It’s pretty clear by now that those who want “50% defunding NOW” are not after improving our policing.  They want to deliver a crippling blow to SPD.   Their motives are varied, but all are not putting the communities health ahead of their own agendas.  Defunding without a plan is playing with fire.  Even the mayor has come to her senses.

      • WestSeattlite August 22, 2020 (2:58 pm)

        I agree with your point, but am a little conflicted on the best way to do this. How do you stand up an alternate program without funding? I agree we need to think about what a replacement program looks like first, but I’m also concerned about decision paralysis. We need to be able to try a new program even if it’s not perfect.

  • Sheesh August 21, 2020 (3:06 pm)

    Thanks Mayor Tear gas.

  • aRF August 21, 2020 (3:15 pm)

    I want Carmen Best back.

    • Wayne August 21, 2020 (3:35 pm)

      Best would be insane to come back. She has so many better opportunities coming her way where she doesn’t need to deal with this juvenile BS 

  • Blbl August 21, 2020 (3:26 pm)

    They have votes to override the veto, now do it!!

    • Joseph August 21, 2020 (4:44 pm)

      Yet, you’ll be the first on your street to call the police if you hear screams for help, so…

      • Blbl August 21, 2020 (5:35 pm)

        Ha, doubt it. No one would show up anyway if they’re babysitting their dear union hall. 

        • HappyCamper August 21, 2020 (9:27 pm)

          Wow. Read up about labor unions. Why they came about, how they came about and why they are still necessary.In the end the union DOES NOT protect an individual. Repeat DOES NOT. The union protects the contract. Just as the employer holds employees to the collective bargaining agreement the union holds the employer to it as well. If you’re a bad employee and the employer follows the correct disciplinary process they can can you just like anywhere else. Usually an employer like the city messes that up and THAT is what saves a person’s job not the union. They just point out that the employer messed up the process. No mess up, no defense, employee fired.

          • CAM August 22, 2020 (10:36 am)

            Police unions are unlike other unions. They’ve been kicked out of the King County labor union council I believe due to their behavior. They do in fact protect bad employees. Criticizing police unions is not being anti union. 

          • HappyCamper August 22, 2020 (12:57 pm)

            Agreed that criticizing the police union does not make one anti-union.However, the police union was kicked out of the labor council as a result of the protests, etc. Possibly a knee jerk reaction not unlike the city council. Maybe not: I don’t know enough about it myself.But I think sometimes protecting a bargaining agreement looks like protecting a bad individual. I’ve been union and I’ve seen it. Sometimes a union will defend a person that even other members aren’t fond of but it’s because there is a contract in place and both sides are concerned with legal precedent. Both sides think if they give an inch in precedent the other side with take a mile so they do not budge on anything outside of the agreed upon progressive discipline or anything else.It should certainly be easier to fire bad cops. I bet the contract rules can make it difficult but that’s what is currently negotiated. But there’s a balance too because no one will do the job if they get fired the first time a citizen that doesn’t like cops anyway or whatever complains.

    • Alki August 21, 2020 (4:53 pm)

      They should have to put this to a vote of the citizens of this city. Then I believe, it would go down to defeat, very easily. During the next election for city council things will REALLY change. None of the current council members will have a chance of being re-elected. 

      • 1994 August 22, 2020 (8:20 pm)

        Agreed, after all it is taxpayer money they are talking about.  If everyone behaved themselves that in itself would reduce the need for a large and expensive police force. 

    • West Seattle Islander August 21, 2020 (5:07 pm)

      Typical response.  Lets cut, cut , cut with no plan.  Makes perfect sense and typical of our city council serving their own agendas and not the citizens or the homeless.  I don’t understand responses like this. 

    • West Seattle Islander August 21, 2020 (5:12 pm)

      Yes, lets jump out of a plane without a parachute!  Cut, cut ,cut with no plan!  Makes perfect sense said no sensible person ever.   

    • Thomas Wood August 22, 2020 (5:37 am)

      These decisions should have all the voters ,not just a few!

  • Wayne August 21, 2020 (3:31 pm)

    It is disingenuous and ridiculous to put forward the idea that defunding the police by 50% was anything more than a knee jerk reaction by the city council placating to a couple of fringe activist parties. If there were any integrity in the decision, the council would have actually talked about doing some of the policing differently, getting social workers into some aspects of calls and moving around some responsibilities from police to other agencies. There would have also been many others, including the police involved in the conversation. Even the Seattle African American Advisory Council was against this rash “decision”. But instead, the council threw out an arbitrary number and then tried to work backwards from that. As Morales said, the cool wrote a check they couldn’t cash and were scrambling hypocrites trying to figure it out at the last minute. On top of that, they tried to substantially cut Carmen Best’s pay. How ironically “progressive” 

    • Seattleite August 22, 2020 (5:14 pm)

      Wayne – I’m pretty sure you’re referring to Debra Juarez, not Tammy Morales when you refer to who said writing a check you can’t cash and how hypocritical the council is.  Neither Juarez or Pedersen were part of the 7 members who were for defunding 50%, Tammy Morales was and is extremely aggressively pursuing it. She also spoke out and backed up the protestors who went to Chief Best’s house.

      • 1994 August 22, 2020 (8:33 pm)

        The Seattle Times today wrote about Durkan’s veto and here is a quote from Tammy Morales in the article, one of many she gave:  ” I would be lying if I didn’t say it hasn’t been frustrating and painful to be caught in the gears of a government system that is really structured to uphold racial inequity,” Morales said. The Black police chief resigned/retired because of this type of thinking from city council members. Trump would love Tammy Morales so he can exclaim the radical left is alive and well in Seattle driving out the police chief.

      • Wayne August 23, 2020 (6:22 am)

        Yes, thank you for the correction. I meant Juarez. 

  • Onion August 21, 2020 (3:52 pm)

    i hope council members don’t let their egos get in the way of working with the mayor and the police department. The council should take seriously the morale issues on the force even while working toward reform. We need the men and women on the police force on our side.

  • anonyme August 21, 2020 (4:14 pm)

    Durkan has finally made a decision I can respect.  We’ll see what happens in terms of follow-through.

  • Al King August 21, 2020 (5:06 pm)

    K to the F. Please name the groups that are ready now to take over from the police. I have yet to hear the names of any of them. The defund now groups wouldn’t be demanding change unless they have people ready to go now-would they? In addition-who will these new people be accountable to? What guarantees to you give us the money these new groups get will be spent wisely?

  • Question Authority August 21, 2020 (5:24 pm)

    It’s unfortunate that these so-called advocacy groups feel that change comes by using a bullhorn rather than negotiations and discussions about reality, cost and impact.  It’s like being back in school where the loudest kid in class did it for attention, but the rest of the class suffered due to that disruption.

  • Alex August 21, 2020 (5:57 pm)

     I was pretty steamed when the Mayor gave up the East Precinct and sentenced the merchants and residents of CHAZ to lawlessness without any police protection.   She was more interested in riposting Trump with her summer of love comment.   So thanks Mayor,  for finally standing up as the adult in the room and challenging the Council.   

  • WTF August 21, 2020 (6:09 pm)


    • ShrinkSPDNow August 21, 2020 (8:44 pm)

      So the Mayor’s response is: let’s negotiate, but my position is that you can’t have any of the things you voted for, not even the paltry 6% reduction in SPD.  And because you can’t start up any new programs until the money is available from old programs being cut, you can never ever have any of those things.Durkan is taking a page from the Trump playbook, and she is toast next year (if she even survives the actual recall and not a make-believe one that all the keyboard warriors here are clamoring about).

      • Sixbuck August 22, 2020 (2:12 am)

        Voted for??Who the hell voted?!

      • Allen Bower August 22, 2020 (8:30 am)

        Sorry the silent majority talked some sense into someone with authority. KCEquity now and Decriminalize Seattle are money grab groups. And if we wanted Ms. Oliver making decisions for us we would have voted her in…sadly she didn’t even make the first cut. Last I’m regards to the mayor being recalled I firmly believe everyone on this council will not see another term after this blunder. Sorry you have so much hate for people that protect you. 

      • John August 22, 2020 (9:17 am)

        We didn’t vote to defund SPD.  The city council decided for 744,900+ people what we will get.  The citizens of Seattle SHOULD have this put to a vote.  It’s important enough that 9 individuals should not determine the future of the largest city in the upper left of the USA.

  • anonyme August 22, 2020 (7:43 am)

    I have yet to hear a single, coherent rationalization as to how cutting officers will prevent the deaths of black people at the hands of police.  The only way to work toward that goal is to provide training, clear new guidelines regarding the treatment of suspects, and real penalties when those guidelines are breached.  Defunding is at odds with those goals and will only make the situation worse for everyone.  And many of the wrongful deaths of black people at the hands (and knees) of police were not due to the use of firearms or military weapons.  They were due to illegal chokeholds and other lethal methods of restraint.  It is completely unrealistic to expect unarmed policing of a fully armed and militarized society.  That is the monster that we have created.

    • CAM August 22, 2020 (10:40 am)

      Training isn’t going to cut it. Research has shown that bias training has no impact on police decision making or future acts. It is a culture problem that is rooted deep. I’m not advocating any actual position but if you actually want to see an improvement or structural change, the only answer is massive and wholesale reform. Not gradual and not incremental. 

      • Jim August 22, 2020 (12:53 pm)

        Cam, how about a reference to that “research”.    Good thing you aren’t advocating any actual position other than *massive* reform. (sarcasm)

        • CAM August 22, 2020 (8:45 pm)

          That research has been referenced in multiple media sources and is freely available to you. I’m not a librarian and I don’t work for free. Facts are facts and you can choose to deny them but that doesn’t make your opinion valid. Maybe you can point to some research that demonstrates antibias training works to prevent violence by police?

    • Sarah August 22, 2020 (3:13 pm)

      100% agree with anonyme. At least try de-escalation training first.

      • CAM August 22, 2020 (8:47 pm)

        SPD has already received frequent deescalation training. How long should we try it for?

        • Wayne August 23, 2020 (6:35 am)

          A ridiculous statement. The one thing the defunding crowd is not conveniently talking about is society’s role in all of this. De-escalation is not a one way road and no amount of training is going to work if the party that one is trying to de-escalate decides they do not want to. SPD responded to over 17,000 in crisis calls (according to Durkan, because of the failure of the other systems) and less than a percent required any use of force, which could be as minor as handcuffing. If you’re looking for 100% success rate, you’re living in lollipop land. According to John Hopkins, 250,000 deaths result annually in the medical field through malpractice and neglect. I suppose we should just defund the medical industry and stop training

    • SomePersonInYourNeighbourhood August 22, 2020 (3:22 pm)

      Thanks for recommending policies that I think would be useful to implement to have more responsible policing. I think your comment about policing in a society within an armed society is something that hasn’t gotten as much attention as it should.I’m curious about your thoughts on the former Dallas Police Chief’s comments about asking the police to solve every problem societys have failed to solve themselves. As an example, Do you think police are the right people to be involved in incidents with someone that has mental health issues?Are there other programs we should reevaluate the use of police for? If not, why do you think the police are the best for some of those tasks? If you are open to reevaluation of how we use police in our society, then do you think it makes sense to move funding from the program those responsibilities currently are under to the program that takes on those responsibilities.

  • Millie August 22, 2020 (4:57 pm)

    I would suggest the Mayor and City Council (wouldn’t hurt appointed officials either) read last week’s article in the Seattle Times by Jon Tarlton.   The article is entitled “COVID-19 ISN’T SOLE RISK TO SEATTLE BUSINESSES”.  The article does address more than the title suggests.

  • anonyme August 23, 2020 (2:29 pm)

    Not sure if Cam’s anti-training comment was directed at me, but just to be clear, I said NOTHING about anti-bias training, which I agree is not effective.  I would even go so far as to say that diversity training, in general, accomplishes nothing.  It is impossible to mandate belief, whether it applies to bias or religion.  You can only control behavior, and even then, not 100% of the time.  There are all kinds of training, and any time major changes are implemented, training will be required so that new policies are clearly understood.  You can’t just make radical changes from the top down and expect those changes to be understood via osmosis.  But one thing that must happen is the elimination of police immunity.  The “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality should change dramatically once the possibility of life in prison becomes a real option for the shooter.  And there are unquestionably situations that need not be attended to by an armed officer, although those decisions aren’t necessarily cut and dried.  For example, domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous there are; I’m horrified every time I hear someone recommend social workers attend to those calls.  Yikes.  The complications of having an armed society are just as dicey, and one I fear will not be resolved in my lifetime – although the discussions are essential.  Societies that have unarmed or lightly armed police are those where guns are banned.

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