Seattle Police Department has hit its lowest deployable officer numbers since the ’90s after suffering significant budget cuts, which has led to slower response times for priority calls.
Seattle radio host Ari Hoffman told Fox News that the Seattle PD is so short-staffed it is taking nearly 20 minutes to respond to high-priority, life-threatening situations.
The budget, which has already been reduced by $50 million, may be reduced by another $5.4 million if the bill put forth by the Seattle City Council is approved. The Seattle City Council’s bill, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to defund the police, would also limit the department’s staff pay to a maximum of $150,000 dollars, and would remove as many as 100 further officers from the already under-staffed department.
According to a KOMO news report, the police department did not meet its goal to respond quickly to 911 calls over the last seven months due to the severe officer shortage caused by officers leaving the department in light of budget cuts.
Last year, a record total of 135 officers left the department.
Major Jenny Durkan said, “So many people have left the department and we are so hamstrung in our ability to hire back, it is starting to really have risks to public safety and our obligations under the consent decree.”
According to Police Chief Adrian Diaz, the best way to prevent officers from leaving is to stop cutting the budget. Diaz said that that there were 221 days in 2020 where his officers were only responding to Priority 1 or Priority 2 calls, and dismissing less important calls.
“We will have to say no for requests for service, something we have already had to do this year,” Diaz said.
Another casualty of the defund movement, former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, the city’s first Black police chief, resigned from her post, saying that the budget cuts put her “in a position destined to fail.”
Best told NPR, “I believe 100% that they were putting me in a position destined to fail. Cutting a police department that already had low staffing numbers, that was already struggling to keep up with the demand. How are we going to provide for adequate public safety in that environment?”
In addition, Hoffman told Fox News that the police shortage has caused gun sales, particularly among women, to surge in Washington state.