SEATTLE — Seattle police Chief Carmen Best came on strong in criticizing plans the city has for making Draconian cuts in the department’s budget.
On Friday she accused the City Council of recklessness and “political pandering” by advocating to slash her department’s budget by 50 percent, arguing that cutting funds to that extent would be asking citizens “to test out a theory that crime goes away if police go away,” Fox News reported.
“I do not believe we should ask the people of Seattle to test out a theory that crime goes away if police go away.”
– Chief Carmen Best
“These 2020 cut scenarios by the Council are political gestures, however, not realistic or rational solutions. SPD is absolutely committed to transforming the department and has already started the process. But if we are asked to cut 50 percent of our department overnight, we will be forced into decisions that do not serve our shared long-term goal of re-envisioning community safety,” Best wrote in a letter addressed to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday.
“I will fiercely advocate that we focus on realistic, rational and responsible solutions – not political gestures or pandering or political posturing,” the chief added in a video address to officers posted to YouTube on Friday. “I do not believe we should ask the people of Seattle to test out a theory that crime goes away if police go away. That is completely reckless. It’s an abdication of the duty every leader of this city swears to when they take their oath of office.”
Best said the proposed police budget cuts would lead to either the transfer or termination of 50 percent of the department’s total workforce. The agency would also lose more than 50 percent of its own officers who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
Cuts this deep mean we would lose more than 50% of our (BIPOC) officers. These officers’ life experiences make us a better department and community. 4/4 https://t.co/r0JgDaTEu1 pic.twitter.com/4UbecEXPpM
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 10, 2020
So far, seven out of the nine members of Seattle City Council have voiced support for the goal to decrease the city’s police budget by 50 percent, according to the Seattle Times. It takes six votes to pass legislation related to the city budget and overrule a mayoral veto.
Council members Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis became the latest on Thursday to throw their support behind a proposal introduced by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now.
Council members Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena Gonzalez had already shown support for cutting the police budget by 50 percent.