The Seattle City Council proposed a resolution to defund the city’s police department and create a “Civilian-led Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention” on Friday.
The new resolution prioritizes the creation of a civilian-led safety department to supervise the city police. The resolution also aims to reassign current police responsibilities, including emergency dispatchers and parking enforcement, to other city departments and shift an unspecified amount of money from the city’s police to fund “community-based investments.”
The resolution says the council is dedicated to “addressing the racist institution of policing” and confronting “the Seattle Police Department’s role in perpetuating racism and violence.” It also blames the police department for using tear gas and rubber bullets to control violent rioters in the city.
Seattle is one of many major U.S. cities looking to implement police reform in response to anti-police protests and riots that erupted across the country this summer. Earlier this month, seven of the nine city council members said they would support a 50 percent cut to the city’s police department—a move that Seattle police chief Carmen Best said would be “absolutely detrimental” to the city.
“I think that the impact would be absolutely detrimental not only for the police department but for the community that we serve,” Best told NPR. “Just lopping off 50 percent of our officers, I would think at this time would be a reckless maneuver and I’m hoping that people will calm down and look at ways that we can have a real plan in place of how we might transfer some of the responsibilities and services to other areas.”
Rioters in Seattle have rampaged the city for weeks, burning police cars, using Molotov cocktails to set the juvenile detention center on fire, and looting local businesses. Last month, a group of anti-police protesters attempted to create a police-free autonomous zone, which was disbanded after four people were shot and others were allegedly sexually assaulted in the area.
The anti-police protests and the movement to defund the police follow the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody earlier this year.