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Seattle Mayor's Veto Saves Police from Budget-Slashing Bill

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Friday she will veto City Council-approved proposals that would include reducing the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition.

The council’s proposals approved last week were strongly opposed by the mayor and Police Chief Carmen Best.

Durkan said in a news conference on Friday that she did not agree with cutting the officers, nor with measures that included a reduction in Best’s roughly $294,000 annual salary and the salaries of other police leaders, as well as a plan to take officers off a team that removes homeless camps.

She also complained that the council had not discussed their plans with her or the police chief before taking action.

“This veto was because the bills as passed did not have the type of collaboration that I think we will have going forward, and that I’m hopeful we will have going forward,” she said.

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“There’s some flaws in each of these [bills] that I hope the council can correct, or with discussions, we can find a path forward together.”

Only council member Kshama Sawant voted against the budget package, saying it did not decrease the police budget enough.

Seattle now has about 1,400 police officers, and the proposed reductions fell far short of the calls from many Black Lives Matter protesters for a 50 percent cut to the department.

Hours after the vote, Best announced she would be leaving her post, saying she was OK with her pay cut, but not with having to lay off new officers.

Do you support Mayor Durkan's veto?

Durkan said Friday she has been talking with Council President Lorena González and is optimistic that the council and her office can work out a compromise.

González told The Seattle Times she was “disappointed” by the mayor’s veto decision, but she would work with her on a path forward.

“I have to believe that we agree on more than we disagree, and I will strive to bridge the gap on our few but critical differences of opinion,” González said.

“I hope that the public knows that their elected leaders are committed to working together on achieving a long-overdue transformation of our law enforcement and criminal justice systems that have for far too long perpetuated trauma and harm on our black, brown and indigenous neighbors.”

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