SEATTLE — Demonstrating how out of touch they continue to be with public safety needs, the Seattle City Council made a controversial decision on Monday, voting no on a plan to devote funds to maintain police on payroll while attempting to hire new officers.
The council rejected two plans proposing at least $1 million go to officers, one by a close vote. The decisions come as the city struggles with increasing crime trends, tanked morale among police personnel, and redefining the role of armed law enforcement, KIRO reported.
The Seattle Police Department has a net loss of 200 police officers over the past 18 months, despite recruitment efforts, which have surely been made difficult as resigning officers have lambasted city leaders.
Councilmember Alex Pedersen offered a proposal on Monday to use $1 million to $3 million of the $15 million in salary savings on bonuses to recruit and retain officers to fight rising crime. The irony is this would be unnecessary if the council was not so hostile toward police in the first place.
“To demonstrate and recognize this staffing crisis caused by the tidal wave of attrition, and that we want our remaining officers and detectives to stay in Seattle,” Pedersen said.
However, some citizens continue to pressure the council to stay the course and dramatically alter the law enforcement landscape by putting money into social work, at the peril of armed law enforcement.
“The majority of this council pledged to defund SPD, a promise that still remains unfulfilled,” citizen Katherine Dawson said during public comment.
Nevertheless, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is at least demonstrating a modicum of good sense despite her checkered past for police as she urged support for the hiring and retention plan.
“It’s a false choice to invest in alternatives or hire and retain officers to meet our current 911 response — we have shown we can invest tens of millions in new alternatives,” said Durkan.
Councilmember Andrew Lewis voiced his concern with the proposal on Monday, KIRO reported.
“When I disagree with this — (it’s) the reprioritization of the money component of this amendment. The money earmarked for critical crime prevention programs in the human services department,” said Lewis.
And then moments later, Lewis voted yes for a separate, less expensive plan to recruit and retain officers, but it didn’t matter. A majority of council members rejected that plan by a 5-4 vote in the belief that the money should be devoted to alternatives in policing.
So the city continues down a path toward social experimentation with public safety. Consequently, you can expect to see crime rates rise in the Pacific Northwest.