Facing skyrocketing violence and a staffing crisis, Seattle city council votes to slash police budget further

Share:

SEATTLE, WA- As crime and violence continue to rise in the city and the police staffing crisis gets worse, a final vote from the City Council just shrunk the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD), making it even more difficult to protect and serve.

In an 8-1 vote, the council approved a $355.5 million budget for SPD, stating that there are no cuts functionally for SPD and that the budget includes funds to hire 125 officers in 2022. Budget committee chair and councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said:

“This budget includes no cuts to SPD staffing, no cuts to SPD officers, no cuts to salary in this proposed budget.”

However, the police department’s budget is shrinking compared to years past, especially with a mass exodus of officers during the “defund the police” movement. For example, in 2021, the budget was $363 million and in 2020, it was $401.8 million.

Earlier in the fall, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed budget had an additional $10 million towards SPD salary savings for things like hiring bonuses, but that was cut. Before the vote, KOMO News spoke with her one-on-one about the budget. She said:

“Now is not the time to both be cutting officers also but every time council acts, they’re telling officers that are here today if they’re valued or not. Mayor-elect Harrell ran on adding more officers and I’m trying to get him up for success as much as I can.”

The budget includes funds for 1357 officers and SPD says that right now, there are 1,120 officers on the force, which leaves 237 jobs open. That still leaves the department shy 112 offices and that is not including any additional retirements or officers resigning.

City Council’s budget added six Community Safety Officer positions to SPD, making the team a size of 24 come 2022. The Downtown Seattle Association criticized city council’s budget for missing the mark, saying:

“Seattle voters sent a clear message earlier this month that they want city government to prioritize addressing homelessness and improving public safety. Unfortunately, the City Council’s 2022 budget misses the mark on both fronts.”

The Association added:

“Despite being the largest budget in city history, it is incomplete with no clear strategy to meaningfully address these issues and support the recovery of downtown Seattle.

The budget shortchanges the investment recommended by the Regional Homelessness Authority in a downtown homelessness plan and the council’s opposition to the Mayor’s proposed SPD budget sends the wrong signal to officers and our community.”

The statement continued:

“Seattle voters and the downtown community want to see action and results on these critical issues to support the continued recovery and renewal of our center city and we look forward to working with our newly elected Mayor, City Council members and City Attorney to make this a reality in 2022.”

Groups like Decriminalize Seattle praised the budget reduction, saying it is time to invest in communities. Angelica Chazaro from the group said:

“I want to live in a city equipped to address the current and coming crisis without resorting to armed cops to protect the rich at the expense of the poor. This is why we demanded a Solidarity Budget and why we celebrate every penny that leaves harmful policing practices and goes towards building a Seattle where we can all survive and thrive.”

She added:

“We no urge Mayor Durkan to sign this budget into law. Our cross-movement coalition helped us secure a defund of SPD two-years in a row and we’ll be back for more.”

The budget came under scrutiny recently after Council President Lorena Gonzalez proposed removing the funding for the 101 vacant police officer positions in the 2022 budget, however, the proposal was rejected by the council. The budget now heads to Durkan’s desk for final approval. 

Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, which is the union that represents the officers, reacted positively to the budget. Solan said in a statement:

“The city council’s vote on the budget today is the beginning of a great political pivot away from unreasonable activism and back to the moderate policies that made Seattle the Emerald City. I look forward to working with the newly elected officials to ensure the future of Seattle’s public safety. Seattle is worth saving.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Kid watches own dad die as anti-police policies, “mandates” in Seattle push staffing crisis to crisis levels

November 13th, 2021

SEATTLE, WA- As crime rates skyrocket across the country, those who live in cities like Seattle are experiencing first hand the effects of anti-police policies and vaccine mandates for city employees put in place by far-left Democrats.

One such incident forced a 13-year-old boy watch his father die unnecessarily because of such policies. According to Jason Rantz at MyNorthwest, in two 911 calls, a 13-year-old pleaded for help as his father suffered a medical emergency in their apartment. 

What would have normally elicited an immediate response by first responders was delayed and the father died. First responder’s are blaming the city’s ongoing staffing crisis, which has only worsened since the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Reportedly, when Seattle Fire arrived, they were told to wait for police before entering. The address had been flagged as unsafe for Seattle Fire to enter. At the time, the precinct was down two officers and was leaning on non-patrol volunteers to meet minimum staffing requirements.

It took Seattle police 15 minutes to arrive, delaying medics from performing life-saving measures on the father and despite their best efforts, the man died. It was found out after the fact that the address was flagged due to a previous tenant and did not apply to its current residents. 

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate crippled an already understaffed police and fire department. These departments do not have enough employees to respond to emergency calls and now, through no fault of Seattle police or Seattle Fire, a man is dead when he might have been saved.

The Jason Rantz Show obtained documents and 911 calls outlining the tragic events that took place on November 2nd. Several sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, provided additional background to better explain the incident.

The 13-year-old boy first called 911 at 1:24 p.m. to explain that his 45-year-old father was experiencing a medical emergency. He wasn’t sure what it was. The operator asked the teen:

“Is he conscious?”

The teen responded:

“I don’t know. I think he … yeah, he’s conscious, but he’s not OK. Hurry.”

At 1:26 p.m., the call was dispatched to Seattle Fire. A medic unit would respond first, given what is known now. These are units staffed with two medics and have the most medical experience. However, Seattle Fire was down one medic unit due to the staffing crisis. 

A spokesperson for Seattle Fire noted that the initial dispatch was for an aid response and that a medic on duty would not have been sent early on. Instead, A18 was assigned to the incident and arrived within five to six minutes. This unit comprised of two firefighters, but they could not enter the residence without officers present.

As A18 waited, the teen called 911 a second time at 1:37 p.m.- 13 minutes after his initial call. He told the dispatcher that his father was barely breathing. The boy said:

“He wasn’t like this before, I’m just really worried.”

The dispatcher said:

“Look at his chest. Tell me if it’s rising and falling.”

The boy said:

“Barely. Almost not at all. Almost. He’s still moving.”

Police arrived on the scene at 1:45 p.m. and began to assist. At the same time, M10, a medic unit comprised of two medics, arrived on scene. A source says Seattle police escorted the teen to the apartment’s lobby as others worked to save his father. However, despite an hour-long resuscitation effort, they were able to keep the man alive.

As of this writing, the medical examiner has not released a cause of death. However, two veteran medics familiar with the incident told Rantz that this was likely avoidable. One medic explained that “had it been addressed early, his chance of survival would have been 60 percent.”

It wasn’t just a staffing issue that delayed the response. An error also played a role in this outcome. The cautionary premise note on the address was outdated. However, the prevailing opinion amongst Seattle Fire and PD is that the current staffing crisis is to blame. 

The vaccine mandate has only accelerated the crisis. Durkan’s vaccine mandate took nearly 100 officers off the streets in mid-October. Officer terminations are pending and at the time, the department was already dangerously understaffed with just over 1,000 deployable officers in the department. Now, it is under 1,000.
Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Seattle defunded the police. Now desperate for cops, they’re offering up to $25k bonuses for new hires.

November 2nd, 2021

Editor note: For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight to re-fund the police and support the cause, click here.

SEATTLE, WA – The City of Seattle was perhaps one of the worst-hit cities in the aftermath of rioting and violence on police after the death of George Floyd. 

As a result of that and the city leadership potentially terminating hundreds of unvaccinated employees, the city is now exploring offering large hiring bonuses.

Mayor Seattle, Jenny Durkan, has announced with an emergency order a plan that she believes will bring more officers into the city.  Her office plans on offering hiring bonuses of up to $25,000 for those who are hired from other agencies and $10,000 for brand new officers, general staff, and dispatchers.  She said:

“When residents call 911, they expect an officer to show up…and when they call the 911 emergency line, they expect that someone will answer the phone. 

Hiring, recruiting and training takes months, and we need to ensure we can have trained and deployable staff.  Seattle cannot keep waiting to address the real public safety officer hiring and retention crisis we are experiencing in Seattle right now.”

There are several reasons why the city of Seattle is in a “hiring and retention crisis.” 

While some point to the pandemic as the cause (we will explore a little further on) others blame the defunding of the police movement.  In May of 21, CBS News reported that more than $840 million were cut from US police budgets during the fallout from the death of Floyd in 2020.  

CBS notes that this drastic reduction of funding for police in Seattle has caused a large part of the shortage.  CBS claims that the Seattle Chief of Police told them that 260 officers have left the agency in the past year and a half. 

That equates to almost 20 percent.

CBS News spoke to a twenty-seven-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department, Officer Clayton Powell, who at the time announced he was retiring early.  Powell told CBS:

“The support that we had in my generation of policing is no longer here.”

He then spoke of how it was like during the violent summer riots and protests by saying:

“When you see businesses get destroyed and families lose their livelihood because of that destruction and we can’t do anything about it.  We’re not allowed to intercede.”

Police Chief Adrian Diaz noted his concern that so many officers were leaving the agency.  He said:

“You know, it does [cause concern] because we saw our shootings go up.  We saw our homicides go up.”

The narrative of police leaving Seattle because of the alleged lack of support from the city and the political leaders there is not something popular.  Additionally, regardless of popularity, it is not the only alleged cause for the shortage in the city. 

The pandemic is also partially to blame for the shortage as there are several hundred officers and staff of the Seattle Police Department who are unwilling to either get the COVID vaccine or at least report that they have received it. 

The President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, Mike Solan, addressed this issue as well as the defunding the police movement by saying:

“The defunding narrative and the lack of political support has led hundreds of police officers to leave this city.  We’re already at a staffing crisis and then the mayor decides it’s a good idea to enact a mandate.  And now since that mandate, we have 100 more officers not working the street.”

Regardless of what the cause of the shortage of personnel is, the reality is that the agency is severely understaffed.  This is noted by Durkin’s office which advised that over 250 officers have left the police agency in the last two years.  A result of those officers leaving and not being replaced is reducing the department’s capacity by over 300,000 service hours.

Durkan claims that her move to offer these incentives is to put more officers back on the street and only comes after the Seattle City Council refused to enact her proposed ordinance in July of this year.  That ordinance would have restored funding to the Seattle Police Department and reinstated 2019 council-approved hiring incentives. 

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

They defunded the police in Philly. Morale hit an all-time low. Now they can’t even get 911 dispatchers.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Calling 9-1-1 in the City of Brotherly Love may not have the intended effects.

Combining a staffing shortage with a significant increase in calls never creates an optimal situation in a dispatch center. Philadelphia residents are starting to feel the crunch and confidence in the system is waning. 

Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz, owner of Marie Huff’s hair salon, had a customer with a medical emergency. So, they called 9-1-1. 

“I called 9-1-1 and it was about 25 rings and I’m thinking, ‘What is going on?’” she told the local ABC affiliate. “It’s very scary, it’s a life or death situation. 911 should be there when we call.”

The 86-year old woman, with a know heart condition, continued to have dizzy spells. 

“This was very scary for us, so I dialed 9-1-1 again and again. About 25 times it rang. Now what do I do?” said Huff-Labovitz.

They tried calling several times, but the calls went unanswered. Finally, they got through after 20 minutes of dialing and waiting for an answer.

Dispatchers were finally able to get firefighters, and then paramedics, on the scene. 

Earlier this week, according to ABC6, a local woman made several attempts to call 9-1-1 as her ex-boyfriend attempted to illegally enter her home.

He kicked and screamed at the door for several minutes before knocking the door off its hinges. Another man inside the residence was armed and opened fire, killing the intruder prior to officers arriving on the scene.

Police say they are aware of the delays. 

Officials have said that they are working diligently to address the shortages. They have graduated new classes of dispatchers and have adjusted the schedules to bring more to the call center during peak call times. 

The general public, however, aren’t the only ones taking notice and asking questions. 

City Councilwoman Cindy Bass says that she is noticing more and more conversation around the shortage. 

“They’re not calling 9-1-1 just to chit chat, they’re calling because there’s an emergency,” she said.

Given the shortage of roughly 100 dispatchers, the city is falling well short of meeting the staffing demand. They currently only have 30 people in training. 

“And they just hired all these 911 operators, I don’t understand, we pay a lot of taxes here,” added Huff-Labovitz.

Councilwoman Bass believes that this raises even more questions. 

“What is happening? What is taking so long? How are we going to correct this and make sure the people in the city feel safe? Because right now, they are concerned and they are rightfully concerned,” Bass said.

According to billypenn.com, there is a reason for the staff shortages. 

“Absences are driven by burnout, COVID-fuelled [sic] illness, and sky-high turnover, according to nearly a dozen current and former dispatchers who spoke with Billy Penn, as well as other officials with knowledge of the situation.

Until recently, supervisors were mandating overtime for dispatchers seven days a week, department officials confirmed.

‘A lot of people are burnt out,’ said Darnell Davis, union representative for Local 1637 of District Council 33, which represents civilian communications in the police department.

‘They’re the first responders, and they’re getting a lot [of pressure] from management to come to work and work through the COVID, and they have.’

This is not a new problem within the Philadelphia dispatch radio room. We wrote about this issue back in July. Keep reading for more on the original coverage. 

Police are reminding the public that if you need non-emergency assistance, call 3-1-1. But, in the event of needing to call 9-1-1, do  not hang up and call back. Doing so puts your call at the end of the queue, as call are routed to be answered in the order that they came in. 

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw is acknowledging a problem with morale.

WHYY reports the the low level of esprit de corps is “due to an extraordinary number of stressors impacting officers in a compressed amount of time.”

Some of the stressors pointed to include the pandemic, which has led to the death of five officers from the PDP, another officer being shot and killed in the line of duty, civil unrest that has been occurring since the death of George Floyd, and the “defund”  movement making its rounds across the country.

“We’ve been through a lot in these last couple of years. A lot,” said Outlaw during a press conference this past week. “We don’t expect our staff to be robots.

We want them to have venues in which they can express what they’re experiencing. We value their well-being.

How do we figure out what our roles are when our narratives are vacillating between: ‘We want more cops,’ ‘No we don’t,’ ‘Defund,’ and, ‘By the way, we want you to do these additional things but we don’t believe it’s OK to give you resources to do it.’ It was a lot of counter-intuitive, conflicting narratives happening all at once with us caught in the middle of that.”

_

Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today?  With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.  

Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing!  (See image below.)  Thanks for being a part of the LET family!
 
Facebook Follow First
Share:
Related Posts