the federalist

Seattle’s Record-High Murder Rates Aren’t Deterring It From Stealthily Defunding The Police

When the Seattle City Council defunded and demonized the police, homicides hit a 26-year high, a mass exodus all but crippled the department, and the voters, somewhat surprisingly, responded by electing a pro-police mayor and council member and a Republican city attorney. 

By all measures, the defund movement was an epic and ultimately deadly failure. And yet the council just voted to defund the police again. They just won’t admit it, following the transparent national Democrat strategy of pretending they were never pushing to defund the police.

This newest move is part of a more sinister attempt to dismantle the police department while jettisoning the “defund” label.

By a 6-3 vote, the council passed its 2023 budget, which includes full funding for the Seattle Police Department’s hiring plan. But it also permanently defunds 80 police positions in a department that is already dangerously understaffed. Through a budgetary sleight of hand, left-wing council members are now claiming to have fully funded the police.

Mayor Bruce Harrell initially offered a temporary cut in police funding since it’s clear the department won’t come anywhere close to the hiring spree needed to reach its goals of hiring 200 officers next year.

Instead, his budget supported hiring 120 officers, which would still, admittedly, take herculean strength to accomplish. It was a short-term way to save some cash without compromising future budgets should the SPD finally make progress in hiring new officers. 

But the council had other plans. Led by far-left budget chair Teresa Mosqueda, who once defended a man threatening to murder police, council members supportive of defund efforts saw an opening to shrink the department. While fully funding the 2023 staffing plan of 120 officers, they cut the remaining positions for good. In other words, they shrunk the department.

While most Seattleites — and journalists — don’t closely follow or understand the convoluted budget process, this permanent staffing cut earned the spotlight courtesy of council members Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen. They voted against the budget, specifically citing their concerns over public safety.

“I believe that eliminating these positions does reinforce a ‘defund’ narrative that got us here,” Nelson noted during the debate.

Council member Lisa Herbold responded, accusing Nelson of spreading misinformation and audaciously claiming it was Nelson’s support of police funding that is leading to staffing problems.

“This misinformation results in members of the public not understanding that the council has fully funded the SPD’s hiring budget, for now, the third year in a row,” Herbold said. “And I feel like this conversation that we’re having actually hurts retention, and it hurts hiring because we’re not focusing on what’s in the budget that supports public safety. Instead, we’re talking about the very small reductions in the mayor’s proposed budget.”

But those “very small reductions” send the message to future would-be recruits that the council isn’t done with their politically-motivated police reforms. The council could have made the cuts temporary, but they chose permanence. 

The president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild

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