Seattle City Council voted to cut about $4 million from the police budget shortly before Police Chief Carmen Best announced her retirement on Monday. Best, the first Black woman in the city's top policing role, would've seen her annual pay drop from $294,000 to $275,000 under the new budget, though an earlier plan proposed a $100,000 reduction, per KING5. Best said she was "confident the department will make it through these difficult times" once she leaves her post on Sept. 2, per CNN. Mayor Jenny Durkan said the police chief was stepping aside in the hope of repairing a testy relationship between the department and council. Facing a $378 million shortfall in the city budget, council "appears to have a veto-proof majority in support of a 50% reduction in the police budget," per the New York Times, though Monday's 7-1 vote didn't go that far.
The $4 million cut appears to be a first step. The dissenting vote came from council member Kshama Sawant, who said the budget didn't do enough "to address the systemic racism of policing," per KING5. Some members of the public countered that more police were needed given vandalism during recent protests. Council President M. Lorena González said there would be an $11 million reduction in the police budget over a year in "response to the calls for advocating for racial justice and investments in BIPOC communities," per CNN. She said 32 officers would be taken off patrol and two officers would be removed from the 911 call center. Training and travel expenses are also to be cut. Durkan can choose to approve or veto the budget. She previously asked police to present a plan for cutting up to 50% of spending next year. (Read more Seattle stories.)