Council struggles with proposed SPD budget cut

Usually when the City Council gives itself sufficient time to research and deliberate on policy questions, the issues eventually become clear and in many cases work themselves out. But in the current case of a proposed $5.4 million cut to the Seattle Police Department budget, things have become messier as the weeks and months have passed. The path forward is now murky, and the Councilmembers are deeply divided on what action to take.

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Herbold proposes smaller SPD budget cut, but police monitor still has questions – UPDATED

(update at bottom of article) Tomorrow morning Councilmember Herbold’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee will once again take up a proposed $5.4 million cut to the Seattle Police Department budget. But after SPD’s blunt assessment two weeks ago of what the budget cuts have done to department operations, Herbold is proposing an alternative version of the bill that would allow SPD to keep most of the money to mitigate aspects of the budget cuts and attrition.

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The competing efforts to restrict SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons

As it stands right now, there are three separate efforts to write rules for how SPD may (or mostly may not) use so-called “less lethal” weapons for crowd control purposes. Since each of the efforts is complex on its own, and the relationship and interactions between them provide additional complications, it’s worth reviewing the whole set to understand where things currently stand and where they might go from here.

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Council sends revised crowd-control weapons ordinance to DOJ and police monitor for review

Today the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee polished off a draft of a revised ordinance placing restrictions on SPD’s use of so-called “less lethal” weapons for crowd control, and sent it off to the Department of Justice and the court-appointed police monitor for comments. In so doing, the Council is signaling that it still feels the need to legislate in this domain while it also recognizes that the terms of the 2012 Consent Decree constrain its ability to do so.

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Judge Robart shares “harsh words” for the City Council in consent decree hearing

A lot happened related to police reform and the Consent Decree today, with an extra large helping of political commentary from an unusual source. This morning, the court-appointed police monitor submitted a proposed work plan for 2021 that not only lays out his office’s work but also commits SPD and the triumvirate of police-accountability bodies to specific deliverables and deadlines throughout the year. Then early this afternoon the monitor, the DOJ, and the City of Seattle went in front of U.S. District Court Judge James Robart to explain the plan and express their consensus support for it.

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Council starts a rewrite of its ban on crowd-control weapons

You may recall that last June the City Council rushed through a near-total ban on SPD’s use of several so-called “less lethal” weapons, including pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and blast balls after several nights of confrontations between protesters and police officers. Several weeks later, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, who oversees the 2012 Consent Decree imposed upon SPD, tossed the Council’s ordinance, for two reasons: because it did not follow the process prescribed in the Consent Decree for modifications to SPD’s use-of-force and crowd-control policies; and because in his view it reduced public safety by removing SPD …

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City, DOJ formally sweep SPD’s crowd-control controversy into consent decree process

This summer there have been two legal threads related to SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons:  two similar lawsuits asking for restrictions; and the Department of Justice asking for and receiving a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking implementation of the City Council’s ordinance prohibiting the police department’s use of crowd control weapons. Earlier this week there was activity in the first thread; today there was an important update in the second.

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