Seattle Police Chief Reacts to City Council Voting to Slash Pay Within SPD

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 29: Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best holds a press conference outside of the departments vacated East Precinct in the area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) on June 29, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The press conference was held near the site of an early …
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Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best reacted to the Seattle City Council’s approval of an amendment aimed at further defunding the police department by slashing the pay of Best and 12 members of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) command staff, questioning why the city would not want to fairly compensate the “best of the best.”

“Yeah, I’m not sure that’s legal to do. So, obviously we’ll be looking at that,” Best told KOMO News on Thursday of the proposed cuts. “But I will talk about my command staff, myself aside.”

Best defended her command staff, describing them as “one of the most diverse command staffs in the entire country.” She told the outlet:

Half civilian. Half sworn. We have civilians on our command staff with the level of authority and expertise. Many of them – three of them have PhDs, JDs, many of our commanders, you know, advance degrees. They’ve worked really, really hard.

Why on Earth – for the people who’ve worked so very hard – would we ever consider not having the best of the best and compensating them fairly?

I find that absolutely shocking and quite frankly – I think it’s punitive and not well thought out. And that’s exactly how I feel about it.

On Wednesday, the Seattle City Council passed a series of amendments aimed at advancing their goal of gradually defunding the SPD. In addition to eliminating the Navigation Team, which deals with homeless encampments across the city, the council moved to slash the compensation of Best and 12 commanding officers within SPD. The pay cuts would begin on September 2.

According to KOMO News:

The city’s website shows Best currently makes $140.87 per hour. Denver, which had an estimated population of 727,211 in 2019, pays its police chief $228,441 per year, according to a spokesperson for the Denver Police Department. The chief of the Metro Police Department in Washington, D.C., which had a population of 705,749 in 2019, makes approximately $282,717 per year.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative (SA) party called the approval of the amendment a “huge victory.”

“I don’t expect them to be happy about it, but is it legal? Yes,” Sawant said:

Additionally, the council approved a move to reduce the number of sworn personnel in the department. Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) stated that mass layoffs mean “that you’re going to lay off the most diverse recruits and new officers,” as many of the new recruits are particularly diverse.

“That’s the reality of it,” she said.

A full council vote is expected next week.

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