The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday evening to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of a nearly $4 million cut from the police department’s budget.
The final vote was 7-2 in favor of the cuts.
“We need a public safety that invests in harm reduction, and not the ongoing status quo of policing as we know it in America,” City Council President Lorena González said as the cuts were approved.
The mid-year changes go into effect right away, and will effectively cut $11 million each year. That’s far less than the 50% budget cut that had been previously discussed.
The City Council rebalanced the budget in light of the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and calls to redistribute funds from policing to community programs in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd, González said in a statement when the cuts were initially approved.
The new budget was opposed by councilman Alex Pedersen, who said it will not improve public safety.
“It contributed to the early retirement of our city’s first black police chief,” Pedersen said.
On August 10, shortly after the cuts were initially approved, Police Chief Carmen Best announced her retirement.
“I want to thank Mayor Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times,” Best said in a letter to members of the police force obtained by CNN. “I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times.”
Best’s retirement was effective September 2 and Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz became interim chief of police.
Tuesday’s vote came after three hours of public comment and statements from City Council members. Some members said they were still open to further discussions with the mayor about refinements to their plan.
In a statement issued before the final vote was taken, Durkan said, “Even when we disagree, I have always believed we could work together on actual solutions that can be done and make the change we want to see.”