Seattle poised to cut police budget by 20%, second most in nation but short of 'defund' demands

'Defund the police' activists had called for 50% cut

The Seattle City Council has proposed reducing its police budget by 20%, which would make it one of several Democratic-run cities taking big chunks of money away from local law enforcement, MyNorthwest reported.

Many "Defund the police" activists who were calling for the city to cut its police budget by at least 50% may not be happy, but the cuts would make Seattle second only to Austin for biggest police budget reductions since the May 25 death of George Floyd. Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide protests against law enforcement.


The city council's plan calls for 35 officer layoffs by July 2021, for a total reduction of 100 officers in 2020 and 2021, according to MyNorthwest.

A police official looks on during a protest after the Nov. 3 elections, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A police official looks on during a protest after the Nov. 3 elections, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The final city budget vote is expected on Nov. 23, KOMO News reported.

The proposed cuts drew mixed reactions.

"Seattle City Council will cut Seattle PD budget by 20% at a time where we have historically high homicides and historically low deployable police staff. Makes total sense in a Seattle-kinda-way," conservative radio host Jason Rantz wrote on Twitter.

"At the height of the summer protests, 7 out of 9 Council Members committed to defunding SPD by 50%," activist Nikkita Oliver wrote on Twitter in response to the proposed budget. "In terms of cops on the streets, the current proposals are a continuation of the status quo."

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda defended the budget at a committee meeting on Tuesday, saying "this is the first year that the City Council is not expanding the Seattle Police Department budget,” according to KOMO News.

"Council is balancing divestment and investment, and taking a necessary step that can be taken at this juncture to address years of over-investment and reliance on punitive systems," Mosqueda said in a separate statement.


Other West Coast cities face changes to their police budgets as well.

Portland's Police Association president told KATU News he breathed a sigh of relief after the city council voted down $18 million in cuts that would have resulted in officer layoffs. But in Los Angeles, the police department is dissolving its sexual assault unit amid a drastic reorganization after city leaders decided to reduce the agency's budget by $150 million.

Fox News' Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.