by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When the Seattle City Council defunded and demonized the police, homicides hit a 26-year high, a mass exodus all but crippled the department, and the voters, somewhat surprisingly, responded by electing a pro-police mayor and council member and a Republican city attorney.
By all measures, the defund movement was an epic and ultimately deadly failure. And yet the council just voted to defund the police again. They just won’t admit it, following the transparent national Democrat strategy of pretending they were never pushing to defund the police.
This newest move is part of a more sinister attempt to dismantle the police department while jettisoning the “defund” label.
By a 6-3 vote, the council passed its 2023 budget, which includes full funding for the Seattle Police Department’s hiring plan. But it also permanently defunds 80 police positions in a department that is already dangerously understaffed. Through a budgetary sleight of hand, left-wing council members are now claiming to have fully funded the police.
Mayor Bruce Harrell initially offered a temporary cut in police funding since it’s clear the department won’t come anywhere close to the hiring spree needed to reach its goals of hiring 200 officers next year.
Instead, his budget supported hiring 120 officers, which would still, admittedly, take herculean strength to accomplish. It was a short-term way to save some cash without compromising future budgets should the SPD finally make progress in hiring new officers.
But the council had other plans. Led by far-left budget chair Teresa Mosqueda, who once defended a man threatening to murder police, council members supportive of defund efforts saw an opening to shrink the department. While fully funding the 2023 staffing plan of 120 officers, they cut the remaining positions for good. In other words, they shrunk the department.