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SPD Budget Shrinks for 2nd Year in a Row

Notes from the Emerald City
SPD Budget Shrinks for 2nd Year in a Row
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #43 • View online

City Council Passes the 2022 Budget
Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to today's Seattle Council Briefing, to be immediately followed by a budget meeting. The final vote on Seattle's 2022 budget will be taken this afternoon.
Amy Sundberg
And the Seattle Full Council meeting has started! For my own sanity I'm not going to live tweet (I expect some longish speeches) but I'll tweet if anything of particular interest happens.
Yesterday afternoon, after a flurry of speeches, the Seattle City Council passed the 2022 city budget. You can read the Solidarity Budget’s final press release on the budget here.
While in some aspects disappointing–the SPD abrogation amendment and failure to fund a CAHOOTS-style alternative emergency response program come to mind, as well as a failure to fund two big asks from the new Regional Homelessness Authority–there is much to celebrate in this budget. Probably first among these is the large investment in affordable housing ($194m), which between the already extant homeless crisis and the current rapid rise of rents, is a desperately needed investment.
Also of note, the SPD budget shrank for the second year in a row, from about $362,988,810 down to $355,487,007. While this is only a 2% cut, it’s remarkable during a year in which most American municipal police budgets are expanding once again (and to be clear, most didn’t receive any cuts last year either). Part of the reason this cut was possible is undoubtedly because of the SPD’s high rate of attrition for the last two years, which means the Council can fully fund all the officer positions SPD can possibly hire in 2022 and still have extra money to invest elsewhere.
The Council also passed CM Herbold’s resolution addressing the Mayor’s emergency order giving hiring incentives to police officers and 911 dispatchers. This order limits the total amount expended to $500k and ends the order at the end of 2021. CM Herbold said more than once that the new Mayor might wish to pass his own emergency order pertaining to hiring bonuses, for which we’ll have to wait until January. It does sound like the hiring incentives are helping 911 dispatch staff up, at the very least, even if SPOG isn’t much of a fan of them.
Now that the budget has been passed, it gets sent to the Mayor, who has three options: she can sign it, she can allow it to pass into law without her signature, or she can veto it. We should know in the next few weeks what her choice will be. Should she veto it, the Council will need to decide whether to override her veto or make further changes to the budget.
King County and Pierce County News
If you live in unincorporated urban King County, the county is asking for input in reimagining public safety through an online survey.
King County Executive Constantine named Patti Cole-Tindall as the County’s interim Sheriff, to begin on January 1. The Executive will appoint a new permanent Sheriff sometime later next year. He also announced a new hiring and retention bonus package for sworn officers at the Sheriff’s department.
Also yesterday, the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance called on the DoJ to investigate Pierce County’s Sheriff Department for disproportionate use of excess force against Black people and people of color. A recent use of force report for the department showed Black residents experience about 5.62 times as much police use of force as white residents. This could put Pierce County on track to be under a consent decree much like the one that’s been in Seattle for over nine years, with no end in sight.
Kari Plog
INBOX: @WaBLMAlliance is urging the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation into the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. A report recently found that deputies use force against Black people at more than five times the rate they do against white people. https://t.co/TEZsdc9Wej
A Housekeeping Note
I’m going to be taking a short break to recover from the budget marathon, so in the meantime, stay safe and have a happy Thanksgiving!
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Amy Sundberg

This newsletter covers Seattle politics and policy with a particular focus on police accountability and criminal legal reform, while also referencing relevant news in Washington State and beyond.

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