Posted: 31 Jul 2020
Dear Councilmembers Herbold, Mosqueda, Sawant, Pedersen, Morales, Lewis, Strauss, Juarez and Gonzalez,
The Fauntleroy Community Association (FCA) is located in West Seattle and represents a catchment area of 3,000 residences with over 300 active members. The FCA Board recently met to discuss the proposed 50% reduction in funding of the Seattle Police Department. The Board has come to the following conclusions.
While we are concerned about injustices in the treatment of minorities by the police we do not support a funding cut of 50%. We feel that the cuts proposed are arbitrary and diametrically opposed to what the City and the Police Department need as well as what is mandated under the Consent Decree. For example, cutting such things as training and data driven policing are absolutely illogical to improving racial equity in the treatment of the citizens of our city, and the efficiency and effectiveness of our City’s police force.
Most importantly we believe that the City of Seattle needs to “rethink” public safety. The needed discussion about what are the various areas of public safety and who should handle each of those must to be decided in an open discussion with current public safety officials and the public.
Regardless of where the ultimate responsibilities get placed this should be a thoughtful/inclusive process not a short sighted “reform” driven by an arbitrary budget cut.
Can the various areas of public safety best be handled by existing departments and staff or do new departments need to be created, staffed and trained. If areas of public safety are to be handled by new departments they will need time to staff up and get appropriate training. Even if the areas of public safety are to be handled by existing departments the same issues of staff levels and training come in to play.
Only when public safety is defined and broken down into areas of concern and a plan developed with input from all affected departments can a budget then be built based on the needs of all stakeholders. As tax payers we expect that our current service and response from the police will be no less than it is today.
We agree with the demand for better transparency of the actions and complaints against the various members of the police force or for that matter any and all employees of this City. No union or special interest group should be able to hide or bury a complaint of any city employee. That includes Council members and the Mayor.
We do not support the closure of the Southwest Precinct. In fact many believe that the Precinct could use more funding to effectively manage the crime issues here in West Seattle. In survey after survey that the FCA has conducted crime is consistently the number one concern in our community. Thus, cutting resources makes no sense as our community is saying we need more help controlling crime locally. Further, it is hard to comprehend how one improves “neighborhood policing” by closing down a neighborhood precinct. While we recognize that review of current structure and function is important to most effectively utilize resources and change what isn’t currently working to focus on what is, the closure of the high level West Seattle Bridge will make response times to local crime issues worse and lead to further inefficiencies.
There has been much discussion about the “militarization” of the police force. While militarization may serve an important and effective role in dispersing people in a riot we believe its use needs to be rethought and whether it is appropriate in an urban setting such as Seattle. At a minimum the use of militarized force and tactics needs to be used as a last resort.
It is not our intention to tell you how to do your job, however with that said, any significant cut in the Police budget, much less half, would have profound effects on many other Departments in the City. All those departments must be part of the conversation. Changes in policy such as are being proposed and discussed should be inclusive of all stakeholders and open to the public. Past changes such as HALA had public meetings and received input from various stakeholders including the residents and voters of this City. We expect nothing less here.
Nils von Veh
Mayor Jenny Durkan
Chief Carmen Best
Captain Kevin Grossman
Lt Sina Ebinger
West Seattle Blog