Seattle City Council takes steps to cut police officers

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council in a preliminary vote decided unanimously Wednesday to reduce the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition — a move pushed by demonstrators who have marched in the city following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.

The Seattle Times reports final votes on the proposals will happen come next week. The council rejected a push to “defund” the department’s remaining 2020 budget by 50% and reinvest that money, as many Black Lives Matter protesters have urged.

The amendments passed in a committee are expected to save only about $3 million of the departments $400 million annual budget this year.

Council members said they were sending a message as they voted 9-0 on the midyear budget amendments that Mayor Jenny Durkan and police Chief Carmen Best have opposed.

“We’re not going to be bullied into doing nothing,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said.

In a statement Wednesday, a Durkan spokesperson criticized the council for voting to reduce the force, cut Best’s salary and remove officers from the city’s homeless encampment-removal team after only “a few hours of discussion.”

A march to City Hall in support of police cuts Wednesday drew hundreds of people, with supporters demanding that policing money be reallocated to other public safety approaches, housing, social services and programs led by Black people.