Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called to rebuild the city’s police force after the area recorded six separate shootings over the weekend.
“As a city, we cannot continue on this current trajectory of losing police officers,” Durkan said during a press conference on Monday. “Over the past 17 months, the Seattle Police Department has lost 250 police officers which is the equivalent of over 300,000 service hours. We’re on path to losing 300 police officers.”
She noted that while the city has focused on “creating meaningful alternatives” to policing by redirecting funding to community-based groups, that the city “has an obligation to still continue constitutional policing and respond to 911 calls.”
“It is a false choice between community-led solutions and police officers,” she said. “We need both.”
Durkan announced that she plans to submit a proposal to hire more police officers.
“Not unexpected, losing these number of officers, when city leaders talk about cutting the department by 50%,” the mayor said. “You will lose employees. Families need security. Workers, even police officers, need working conditions that support them. We cannot just cut. We need a plan.”
Speaking at the press conference, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said he needs more officers and support from the city.
He said the city should be “making it clear to officers, current and prospective…that they will have our support, financially and otherwise, to do this job well and know they will not be laid off due to budget cuts.”
The call to action came after a weekend of shootings left four people dead and seven injured. Crime in the city has been on the rise, with data from the King County Prosecutor’s Office showing that the total number of shootings countywide this year is 33 percent higher than during the same time period between 2017 and 2020.
The progressive city was thrust to the forefront of conversations over defunding police last summer when protesters took over a section of the city and declared it an “autonomous zone.”
Durkan vetoed a resolution by the Seattle City Council last year that would have stripped funding from law enforcement but angered many police officers by downplaying protests and failing to give control of the so-called “autonomous zone” back to law enforcement for many days, even as violence erupted.
Seattle’s police chief ultimately quit last August over a “lack of respect” for police officers in the city.