Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cutting the Seattle Police Budget in Half is Both Reckless and Irresponsible

Seattle has the potential to be one of the great cities of the world, with a stunning physical location, a diverse and creative workforce, home to one of the world's great universities, and the birthplace of important and innovative businesses that have improved the lives of billions across the planet.

But this potential is being seriously threatened today, and the future of Seattle's current and future citizens undermined, by political leadership that is determined to take extraordinarily reckless and uninformed steps based on perceived political expediency.

No better example exists than the intention by a majority of the Seattle City Council to defund Seattle's Police Department by half.  Let's consider the actual facts and real numbers.


The beginning of this movement to defund the police began with the tragic and criminal death of  George Floyd on May 25th in Minneapolis.    The Minneapolis police involved in this murder should feel the full weight of the law.

The Seattle police department has had its own issues, including poor handling of the 1999 WTO protests/riots (where there were no deaths or serious injuries) and the death of Indian woodcutter John Williams in 2010.  In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice begin an investigation of the Seattle police department's use of force, and in 2012 the city and Department of Justice completed a settlement agreement that called for improved oversight, training and reporting.  Under this agreement, major reforms have already been made, including de-escalation and crisis intervention training, implicit bias training, and force review boards.  Furthermore, major gains have been made in recruiting underrepresented groups into the Seattle police force.

A reasonable conclusion from the DOJ and other investigations is that although there have been isolated incidents, the Seattle Police Department is one of the best and most forward-leaning in the nation, led by an able police chief, Carmen Best, a long-time member of the force with local roots.  So where does this mindless reduction by 50% come from?  Is even the current staffing sufficient to ensure safety in a quickly growing city?



Let's consider an analog.  There has been several incidents of criminal behavior by a very few nurses, including a recent one in which a nurse murdered a number of patients by injection.  As a result, should we defund all nurses by 50%?   A few doctors have done the same thing or sexually molested their patients.  Should we defund doctors by 50%?  During the COVID crisis, a number of medical experts and epidemiologists stated that masks were useless, something we now know is not true and probably led to thousands of deaths.  Should we defund such medical personnel by 50%?

The answer to all these questions is clearly no.   Those guilty of criminal behavior (George Floyd's killers, murdering nurses, molesting doctors) should feel the full brunt of lawful justice, such as long prison terms (I don't believe in the death penalty).   Where mistakes are made or systems are broken, organizations, recruitment, procedures, and training must be improved.  You correct and fix without destroying essential services, and public safety and police are essential services.

Considering that the defunding of the police started with the Floyd murder on May 25th, what did our city leaders think about the Seattle police officer staffing before that date?

Well it turns out that our City Council, the mayor and most everyone else was in agreement before May 25th on this subject:  that the Seattle Police department was understaffed and actions were needed to INCREASE the sworn officer cohort in our city.

Police Chief Carmen Best

By any reasonable measure, our rapidly growing city needed more officers, particularly with large number of retirements occurring during the past several years.  Mayor Durkan not only noted the importance of recruitment of additional police but found funds for this purpose:

And most city council members were vocal about supporting more police before May 25th.    Councilmember Strauss stated:  we need more police.  So said council members Herbold, Gonzalez and Lewis.    Councilmember Mosqueta, now a major advocate of defunding Seattle police, supported expansion only a year ago.

So the question you must ask:   why did these Seattle leaders change their positions 180 degrees after May 25th?  Did the shift make any sense?   

You know the answer, of course not.  The Seattle City Council is playing politics and taking actions that will hurt every citizen of our city, and especially the most vulnerable. The lack of sufficient police has already had negative effects on the safety of Seattle's citizens.  Defunding will only make things worse.

You want proof?  No problem.  Consider what the lack of sufficient police officers has meant during the past several years.

Let's start with 911 response time to level 2 or urgent calls:


From 2010 to 2019, the response time to such 911 calls doubled from 9 to 18 minutes (see below).  Think about what that means.  Twice the time to respond to threats of violence.  On Capitol Hill, served by the embattled east precinct, the response time has tripled.


And with inadequate numbers of police, far fewer are watching our roads, providing tickets for speeding, dangerous maneuvers, or poorly maintained vehicles.

With a reduction in police monitoring, traffic tickets were down 43% between 2015 and 2019.   And fatal or serious accidents have rose substantially during the same period, as illustrated by the collision rate normalized for traffic volume from Seattle's Department of Transportation.


There is clearly not enough police in the University District, where attacks, gun violence, and robberies seem to be daily affairs in the same locations (and sent to University folks via email). And there are many other crime hot spot locations around the city with similar problems. They require more attention, not less.

Beyond response, the presence of police acts a crime deterrent and provides a sense of safety to the population--for ALL members of our community.

If these numbers aren't sufficiently compelling, the protests/riots of the past month show what happens when police withdraw from a portion of the city.  Specifically, the Seattle police were forced to abandon a major section of Capitol Hill (known as CHOP or CHAZ).  As a result, two young men died, several were injured, and a huge number of crimes (robbery, rape, destruction of property) occurred.  When police withdraw from an area, chaos reigns.

The absence of police presence creates a vacuum, and vacuums  get filled.  Either by those intent on violence and crime or by outside forces, such as the Federal officers that have been sent to Portland.  Is this what the Seattle City Council wants?

And such lawlessness has profoundly damaged the national and international reputation of our city.  Seattle has received daily attention from around the world as a city in chaos, an example of failed governance, of how not to respond in a time of crisis.


When police are sparse and when 911 calls are delayed, who suffers the most?  It is not those in our higher income communities, but rather those in our minority-majority and low-income neighborhoods.  The calls to defund the police, if effected, would preferentially hurt the very people that our council members wish to assist and protect.

To illustrate, here are the locations of violent crime in Seattle in 2019 from Seattle SPD crime dashboard.  Downtown, Capitol Hill, Northgate, and areas away from the water are the hotspots.  Folks living in the darker blue areas will be the most affected by a crippled Seattle police force.


Now, most of the defunding advocates push the meaningless phrase "re-imagining policing. "  Meaningless because they rarely provide explicit policies and concrete changes.  Meaningless because they don't describe how they will keep Seattle citizens safe.  Sort of a progressive version of "Make American Great Again."  And you know how well that worked out.

There is certainly room for enhancement in improving policing and security for Seattle's citizens, but this will take MORE resources not less.  Maintain the current sworn police force--they are the bulwark of public safety--and take on ADDITIONAL staff to deal with non-violent, non-confrontational issues (e.g. fender benders, homeless folks in trouble).  Provide improved training for dealing with confrontations and street protests. FINALLY, deal with the out of control homeless problem, which means getting them all off the streets.  Clearly, the status quo in homeless policy is an abject failure. The large numbers of mentally ill and drug addicted homeless people are associated with crime and physical assaults, and it is inhumane and unethical to leave them on the streets in any case.  A great city does not allow this.


In summary, Seattle council members that are calling for defunding the police are pushing a "solution" that will only make matters worse.  What will it take before Seattle voters elect leaders with a coherent, rational, fact-based approach to governance?  Because without such leadership, the future of the city is not promising.






84 comments:

  1. I agree with your post and will defend it, however, more needs to be said. Not only do we need more police, they need more and frequent training. If you are carrying a gun and an unarmed person who is bigger and stronger than you gets physical, an instant response is absolutely required. But if you have limited hand-to-hand training and don’t practice several times a week, then you’re going to go with what’s worked for you hundreds of times for for before, like a chokehold or your gun. This gets people killed. But more training, more people on the enforce, more experts for situations that don’t require arrest costs MORE, not less.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They've had plenty of training, and it hasn't helped. For years, "more training! more training!" and things remain the same.

      Delete
    2. Why do you say that the training hasn't helped? How can demonstrate this? ...cliff

      Delete
    3. After seven years of training Seattle Police were still frisking people of color more frequently than whites per a study required under the consent decree:

      https://crosscut.com/2019/05/report-shows-seattle-police-enforcement-still-disparate-along-racial-lines

      In your other replies you seem to be more interested in saying "educate me" than in doing any learning yourself. In past posts in areas outside your area of expertise you've shown you can work with people in other departments at UW, but here you are not. Why are you laying this burden on the POC that have been harmed by Seattle Police for decades instead of internalizing it and doing that work yourself?

      Delete
    4. Eric... you are being a bit disingenuous here. Look at that report more carefully. It was Asians and Hispanics that were frisked most often. And we are talking about single digit differences...relatively small and perhaps not even statistically significant. More important than this is that EVEN if Seattle police were frisking POC more than others, they STILL could be providing critical protection and safety for POC communities. Want an example of this? Chicago.

      Delete
  2. Your argument is not logical. Nurses are there to save lives.

    What are cops there for? To protect billionaires from the wrath of people who need nurses, but can't have them because ... billionaires.

    Reduce the gigantic police budget and use the money to fund useful improvements for neighborhoods: housing, school improvements, after school programs, medical and mental health care, daycare, gardens and food resources, the needs are endless. The root of the problems must be addressed. Then you won't need so many cops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LJansen: "What are cops there for? To protect billionaires from the wrath of people who need nurses, but can't have them because ... billionaires."

      You seem unaware that billionaires almost invariably have security teams always around them. Jeff Bezos does, as does Bill Gates. I've talked with a member of the latter's team. And the 'mere' millionaires live in low-crime and often gated communities with heavily alarmed homes. It's the poor in decaying neighborhoods who suffer most from crime and need police the most.

      Delete
    2. LJansen....well, I called the police when someone tried to run me over while I was on my bike. I am no billionaire and they helped me. Public safety is necessary to have all the other things you listed...schools, health care, and everything else...cliff

      Delete
    3. I am a person of color (not black) who want more police, not less. I don’t feel safe in Seattle at all. My only interaction with the police was when a very nice white cop responded to my 911 call when a black package thief stole a package off my porch. The nice white cop actually found the culprit, thanks to my security cameras, and personally brought the package back to me. Defend the police.

      Delete
    4. I love that Cliff Mass posts stories that did not happen in defense of his ignorant point.

      Delete
  3. OTOH, I cannot imagine the police force not wanting to have mental health specialists responding to a mentally ill person going of control - police back up also needed. The percent of mentally ill persons unnecessarily tried and prisoned ought to be a national scandal, as well as a barbaric injustice. And when are we going to quit treating those unfortunate addicted people like criminals rather than a medical problem. Huge amounts are spent on policing, courts, and prisons which is a near total waste, and only keeps the street prices of drugs highly profitable. Conservative Milton Friedman, Nobelist, noted scores of years ago that criminalizing drug addition would make much of central and south America ungovernable. Yes, entire sectors of law enforcement need to be defunded.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah I think maybe it would be a good idea to stay out of this debate cliff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why? Don't I have a right to provide my viewpoint? What about freedom of speech and airing a variety of viewpoints?

      Delete
    2. It's Cliff's blog and he has a right to express his opinions here. Your comment could be taken as a threat, I hope that is not what you intended.

      Thank you Cliff, it's good to see an opinion that differs from all the "progressive" sheeple in Seattle.

      Delete
    3. Stickerbush..thanks. Disappointingly, I have received some threats. But when people become afraid to talk....our democracy is threatened....cliff

      Delete
    4. Respect your readers. If we wanted politics we would go elsewhere. We respect your weather science. That’s why we are here. Cliff this just drives a wedge into your readers. I respect intelligent people who learn from past mistakes. If you want a political platform please start another blog. These comments diminish you in the eyes of your well informed readers. Please consider the public trust you have on this platform.

      Delete
    5. Mark... you comments is very concerning and unfortunately. So you are saying that I can't talk about political issues on my blog...that somehow that my readers are incapable of considering (or ignoring) such material? Pretty insulting the the blog readers. In Nazi Germany too many folks kept silent when brownshirts were breaking windows, painting Jude signs, and participating in violence. I simply can't condone such violence and to listen to folks that believe that violence and hate should be accepted...cliff

      Delete
  5. Police have too many jobs and responsibilities. Instead of endlessly pumping money into the department for an easy fix, let's work on our social support system and hire experts to deal with the non violent incidents and improve the homeless situation, and domestic disputes. Hiring and training more armed police officers isn't the answer to everything, let's get realistic here and actually face the problem instead of relying on police officers to fix everything for us on their own. Most issues Cliff mentioned don't require a loaded firearm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainly we need to put more resources into dealing with social issues...or doing them in a smarter way. Like dealing with the homeless situation. But we have seen what happens without the police umbrella--CHAZ/CHOP and dead young people

      Delete
  6. Similarly, having more police present to resolve a situation with a violent subject means it is more likely the police can overpower the subject with combined strength rather than needing to use a firearm.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What changed after May 25 was the seattle police’s violent assaults on peaceful protesters. You seem to be ignorant of the many videos of seattle police brutality that are out there. Defunding the police will protect seattlites from the violent crimes and chaos perpetrated by their police force.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, the general population sees the Police force as protecting them...and the obvious fear, is that general thuggery will escalate if we lose so many of our protectors...your comments are valid Cliff, but minority complaints must be addressed....but not at the expense of the general public....Redirecting funds is a good option...and maybe the only option.

      Delete
    2. Brian... I think you got this backwards....the police was called in to deal with violent folks that joined the protests--destroying businesses and property. Police were trying to stop brutality and when they were stopped (like in CHAZ), young men died

      Delete
    3. Cliff... I think you got this backwards.... the police put themselves in the way of a march, arrived dressed for a riot, instigated said riot, then gassed our residential neighborhood using chemicals considered criminal in wartime.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se96K4Xcsj0
      https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/26/opinion/blm-protests-police-violence.html

      Delete
  8. Love your weather stuff. Your take on the relationship between the police AS THEY CURRENTLY EXIST and public safety is wrong, IMO.

    If we funded rapid responders specialized to substance abuse crises, domestic abuse crises, mental disorder crises, health crises (yes, these would often be DIFFERENT people/teams), then the police could specialize in the kinds of problems they're currently trained to deal with. I also think the property crime division needs a massive update with different training, employees, and policies, because the only reason people fill out a police report these days is to get insurance money... we don't even expect thieves to be caught.

    95% of 911 calls are for non-violent crimes. What are we doing sending someone fully equipped to deal out deadly violence when it isn't even part of the problem 95% of the time?

    The current police approach is broken, fundamentally. Tear it down and start over. Allow all current officers to re-apply and give them priority. But we need substance abuse, housing, and mental illness help - not an armed infantry vet with more experience in 3rd world war zones than training for urban policing.

    Vets can be cops, but cops are not simply vets with a different uniform. The challenges are way, way, way, way different.

    Tear it down and start over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Police are generalists that deal with a range of societal threats. There is no reason not to have specialists to deal with non-violent situations--and Seattle has started down this path. But this will take years to put in place....and even if successful, you need police that can deal with violent/criminal situations. The CHOP/CHAZ situation is proof of that....could not get any better. And the same is true of the protest in which violent hooligans embedded themselves.

      Delete
    2. Well said, Cliff! We need more police.

      Delete
  9. Why is the weather so crappy this summer?

    ReplyDelete
  10. After living for over 50 years within Chicago's city limits, I moved to Portland in the hope that the rampant corruption of my hometown's leaders and resultant increases in all levels of criminal activity would be minimal here. It took only a few years and now Portland is attempting to overcome their feelings of inferiority to Seattle by becoming an ungovernable war zone. This city has among the fewest police officers per capita among any city in the US, yet the screeching maniacs are trying to cut them still further. No question that polce reform should be done, I've witnessed firsthand what the Blue Wall can do when city leaders refuse to hold them accountable. But if the activists have their way, everyone will soon reap what they've sown. You can't find a firearm to buy within 100 miles of here, and a lot of folks have seen their patience pushed to the limit. It will not end well for anyone, but it will be particularly ugly for those whose only wish is to watch everything burn down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You admit your ignorance of Portland’s long activism history and then accuse them of copying Seattle, while referring to the 2-3 blocks total of protests (which include extra judicial snatching for crimes as severe as GRAFFITI!) as an “ungovernable war zone”!? Why are you trying to buy a gun? Why did you move to a city you clearly don’t understand or care much for?

      Delete
  11. Police budgets have been rising alot faster than inflation for many years, they need to be cut but a 50% cut is probably too much. Police have too many responsibilities, would it be better to give more money to social services and let them deal with the homeless camps? My number one priority is hold police accountable. There have been several George Floyd like incidents in the past and the police usually investigate themselves and find themselves innocent. This corruption needs to stop, police need to be investigated by an independent body and face the same punishment an ordinary person would face. I understand that a police officer might over-react if they feared for their saftey but George Flyod was no threat he cuffed and complying with officers. If there were real consequences for abusing you're power even bad police officers would think twice about their actions and we wouldn't need to cut police budgets. In Japan police killed 3 people last year, in the US police killed over 1,000 people last year, something is clearly wrong with police system and I fear protests will continue until the system changes signifigantly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Storm1...totally different societies and totally different in the availability of weapons. You simply can't compare them.

      Delete
    2. And you can't simply say that a comparison is of no relevance either. More people die at the hands of law enforcement in the US than any other western country, and by a large margin as well. I don't get why you're surprised that there is a strong reaction in society to this. It's pretty clear that there is a systemic problem, and something needs to be done if we want things to improve.

      I'm not saying that it means cutting funding to the police department, but I agree with Storm1 that accountability is a big part of this, and that looking at rebuilding some of these departments from the ground-up is not a bad idea. Does it solve the entire problem? Not at all - and to your point about homelessness, a simple root-cause analysis will reveal that a substantial amount of the crime is avoidable if people weren't thrown out on the streets, or into prisons, whenever they hit an obstacle in life.

      Yet, we're discussing whether or not to double-down on police funding rather than social programs. We want to fund confrontation rather than de-escalation. All I know is that this is not a recipe for a more harmonious society.

      Instead of flat-out rejecting the comparison to other countries, I encourage you to look at data around this, and look for explanations beyond "different availability of weapons".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_by_country

      Delete
  12. As you state, "The Seattle police department has had its own issues" for two two decades now, issues so bad they've been under consent decree for eight years where they were given opportunity and budget to implement "major reforms […] including de-escalation and crisis intervention training, implicit bias training, and force review boards"

    What return did we get in return from the last eight years of work on de-escalation and crisis intervention training? As the events of the last two weeks have shown, absolutely nothing. Mayor Durkan and Chief Best claimed that SPD had been fully reformed and had no need to continue under the consent decree, but on the first day of protests they showed they learned nothing, not in the past eight years, but in the last 20 years.

    Despite all their training, over the eight years of the consent decree SPD has still not eliminated biased policing. They continue to frisk people of color more often even when white people are more likely to have weapons: https://crosscut.com/2019/05/report-shows-seattle-police-enforcement-still-disparate-along-racial-lines

    Instead of spending training money fixing problems here in Seattle that would further reduce biased policing, SPD leadership traveled to Israel for counter-insurgency training: https://mondoweiss.net/2020/06/george-floyd-killing-highlights-issue-of-us-police-training-in-israel/

    You go on to claim that we need more police officers, but for what? Before SPD started gassing people for exercising their rights SPD was fully staffed: https://sccinsight.com/2020/06/30/understanding-the-seattle-police-department-budget/ (paragraph starting "Much of the overtime is from events").

    The Seattle crime dashboard you link to shows no increase in crime in the last two months, nor any trend in crime due to an alleged lack of officers over the past 12 years of data. If 911 call response time has doubled while crime hasn't changed over the same time period does SPD have any role in preventing crime? The data indicates these two factors are independent.

    Unlike your claim about increased crime on Capitol Hill, the crime dashboard doesn't show any increase in crime for Capitol Hill for the past two months compared to previous years. If a crime increase had actually happened it should be plain and clear on the crime dashboard, but it's glaringly absent. This implies we should be spending money on people who won't show up with a gun and immunity for using it anytime they feel mildly threatened.

    You seem to have completely missed that Seattle Police nearly killed a protester standing alone in a non-threatening manner with a flash-bang grenade. Or the reporter that had a grenade detonate in her hands. Or the other reporter that was arrested for standing alone. Or the citizens arrested and released without charges.

    For someone who has repeatedly talked about the value of good data and good analysis in weather prediction, you seem to have done none of that analysis using the sources you included in this post. Why is that?

    I'd like to point out that Chief Best and every Assistant Chief had been employed by SPD for at least five years at the time of the WTO protests, and the first day of George Floyd protests saw Chief Best enacting the same policies that former Chief Norm Stamper resigned over, and subsequently wrote two books about why he was wrong. (Both of Norm Stamper's books are available in the Seattle Public Library, so this training is even free.)

    Why should we give more money to an ineffective, dangerous city department that hasn't learned anything despite the opportunities we've given them?

    A department that sends masses of publicly-funded employees to terrorize citizens for showing up to protests then releases them without charges?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se96K4Xcsj0

    Or harasses and assaults citizens in the street for exercising their rights?
    https://twitter.com/slydesilva/status/1286219941016776705

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You demand data and facts for conclusions other than your own. Typical.

      Delete
  13. Cliff, I'm pretty disappointed. This is a bad-faith, and un-educated take on what is being proposed.. and I suspect you know that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kerri...bad faith? Why do you say that. Instead of calling me names, tell me what I got wrong..

      Delete
  14. Examining the city budget in order to spend our money more wisely? Good idea. Defunding police by 50%? That's a Pro Crime idea...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well I came here wishing it was sunny, and to see if you were going to tell us more about this gray skied July, but...okay, let’s consider the actual facts and real numbers.

    1. The Seattle Police Department is one of the best and most forward-leaning in the nation”
    In May 2019 Judge Robart ruled the City has fallen out of full and effective compliance in the area of discipline and accountability. Despite this, in May of this year, Seattle filed a motion to terminate ALL independent monitoring of progress on the reforms to address SPD’s use of excessive force and practices raising serious concerns about racial bias. During the first weekend of protests the Seattle Office of Police Accountability reported receiving 12,000+ complaints about the Seattle Police Department’s handling of the weekend demonstrations.
    Source:
    https://www.aclu-wa.org/pages/timeline-seattle-police-accountability
    Since then the City withdrew its motion citing a need to “thoroughly review and assess SPD’s response to recent demonstrations.” Source https://news.seattle.gov/2020/06/03/city-attorney-to-withdraw-consent-decree-motion/

    2. Defunding medical practitioners analog:
    Nurses and doctors are ostensibly responsible for one job, the health and well-being of their patients. This analog misses the point of the “defund the police” movement, which is NOT about punishment but a pursuit of real reform. It recognizes that police are tasked with way too many jobs, well beyond “serve and protect.”

    3. Pre-May 25 concurrence about SPD being understaffed.
    How many of these City workers had considered a point of the defund the police movement, that police are responsible for too much, and policing is not the answer to society’s problems? Perhaps these City leaders are like me—self-educating and investing in change, realizing things cannot continue as “normal” and finally grasping the extent and consequences of systemic racism, the root cause of so many crimes in poverty, mental health, and environmental justice issues. Perhaps they too are considering defunding the police as a way to IMPROVE public safety,
    by relieving the police’s burden and refining it’s role in our society. To quote: “Funneling so many resources into law enforcement instead of education, affordable housing, and accessible health care has caused significant harm to communities. Police violence is actually a leading cause of death for Black men: A recent study found that 1 in 1,000 Black men can expect to be killed by police, and public health experts have described police violence as a serious public health issue. For a country like ours, which considers itself a modern democracy that pushes ideals of freedom and justice for all, that number should be truly shocking.” Source https://www.aclu.org/news/criminal-law-reform/defunding-the-police-will-actually-make-us-safer/

    5. 911 Response Times:
    I’m sure you have seen the massive boom in population, development and the resulting traffic in Seattle. Of course response times are higher, this is a transportation issue. There are too many cars on roads not designed to handle this level of traffic, of course it takes longer to respond, and of course there are more accidents.

    6. “The absence of police presence creates a vacuum, and vacuums get filled”
    This is missing half the point of defund the police. The point is to funnel that money elsewhere. I don’t agree that “the defunding advocates push the meaningless phrase ‘re-imagining policing. ‘Meaningless because they rarely provide explicit policies and concrete changes. “ This is a new idea for many, and an emotional time—a lack of clinical planning doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy point to consider. I agree feasible plans need to be drafted, and opened for public input, prior to any defunding. It would be detrimental to the purpose of defunding the police departments to create a vacuum. Please research further into the heart of the issues...
    -AP

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If there is a 1/1000 chance a black man will be killed by the police, what chance is there that a black man will be killed by another black man? 1 in 10? And not every black man killed by police can claim they were an innocent person not resisting arrest, and not committing crimes. And many of the violent cops are people of color themselves. They are not all white.

      Delete
    2. You don't get to decide what "the point" is. Besides, if raising money for social services was the goal there are a multitude of ways to do so.

      Rather, Defund is an extension of cancel culture, which is itself a descendant of Maoism, and is a means by which a radicalized minority seizes control over the majority.

      Delete
  16. I wish I could agree with you Cliff, but I cannot. Seattle's problem doesn't lie simply with a bit of bad luck in the city's current leadership when these riots hit. I left Seattle in 2012 because I could see the situation getting worse with little chance of change. KOMO-TV has produced a documentary describing just how bad the situation has become since I left.

    https://komonews.com/news/local/komo-news-special-seattle-is-dying

    Seattle's problem is simple. The city's politicians simply don't care about the great bulk of the city's citizens and those citizens, with that Scandinavian nice still lingering, do nothing about that. Here's an example from a Seattle City Council meeting from last year, well before those riots and Covid-19. Only one member of the council pays this responsible gentleman any attention. One harangues him. The rest piddle with their phones.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMrBFNoHBkg


    ReplyDelete
  17. An interesting column in last weekend’s NYT about Baltimore’s struggles, which to some extent sound eerily to Seattle’s.
    “Idealists may hope these changes will eliminate police brutality as communities find better ways to prevent crime than deterrence and force. But on the hunch that human nature hasn’t changed, that is not going to happen. Criminals, fearing less, will continue to prey on others. Police, fearing more, will hold back from doing their jobs, Those with means to leave their neighborhoods will. Those without means will suffer”

    www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/opinion/policing-crime-baltimore.amp.html

    ReplyDelete
  18. The more police there are, the safer I feel. I am a person of color.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks cliff, could not agree more.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Cliff,

    WOW! There is so much passion and feedback here. I hope the decision makers get it right.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is Cliff's blog so he can do what he wants with it. I just want weather information and get tired of political talk everywhere I turn. Does anyone know of a good weather blog that sticks to weather?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eric.... are you telling me you can't simply NOT READ my one in 20 blogs on other topics. That someone is forcing you to read it? If you want weather all the time, I suggest you go the NWS website..cliff

      Delete
    2. I only began to read it and stopped.

      Delete
  22. Cliff, you wrote an entire blog post about Black Lives Matter without discussing or even acknowledging the fundamental issue (police treatment of Black people). If you want to convince people to not defund the police you need to demonstrate you understand why they even want that in the first place.

    A nurse murdering patients by injection is an isolated incident. If George Floyd were an isolated incident, there wouldn't be riots about it either. The BLM movement is expressing a deep pain, and by sidestepping the emotional component of the issue you are communicating that their feelings don't matter, they don't matter to you. I want you to share your opinion but they deserve more respect than that.

    Best, Dylan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dylan...I think you are missing the point of this blog. The loss of police will hurt black lives.... who died in CHOP? To protect lives we need a strong police force. This blog is about a lack of political leadership and about irrational, destructive proposals...cliff

      Delete
    2. a very productive discussion, lots of minds and opinions have changed--dr cliff: how about warming weather next week?

      Delete
  23. Love this Cliff!! Disgusting what the leadership is doing to this ONCE great city. Don't EVER stop sharing your rational ideas and I appreciate the variety of your topics. One of my favorite blogs!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Our cities deserve saving, which will require many profound and difficult choices. Right now our country is teetering on the cusp of what might be another mass migration as those with wealth and can work remotely in knowledge industries flee once again for the 'Burbs and beyond.

    And why shouldn't they?

    Thanks to Covid and the civil unrest, cities have practically no positives at current to offset the negatives. Large cities are really going to need to adapt...and fast. Large urban areas still represent the best use of resources, optimal concentrations of ideas and efficiency. The further perpetuation of sprawl and destruction of open spaces could really accelerate if cities get these choices wrong.

    Which then makes this discussion a climate/weather topic as ratcheting up sprawl will certainly do nothing to lower the carbon foot print or make the best use of infrastructure/resources.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Replies
    1. Look, yet another voice from the "Tolerant and Progressive" left! They're always open for new ideas and debate (as long as you agree with them 100%).

      Delete
  26. George Floyd's murder was the most blatant example of what is horribly wrong with policing; something must be done not only to hold such officers accountable, but to fundamentally change policing, and perhaps, the choice of who are allowed to become officers.

    I agree with Cliff that we need more police, not fewer. And not just more, but a different kind of policing. The approach to law enforcement needs to fundamentally change. It's true that our police are being asked to do things that are way out of their job description - welfare checks, social service interventionists, etc. While policing of car theft and other property crime is woefully inadequate in our city. If we had more police on the force, maybe we could return to community policing - when was the last time we had that, during Norm Stamper's time? Even I knew names of our neighborhood officers. Then at some point, that all went away. Hire more cops, train them differently, put them in neighborhoods, and pay them enough to be able to live where they work. I agree with Cliff that the people who will be most harmed by a 50% reduction in policing will be the poorest among us.

    Instead of just blowing things up, the city needs to come up with a real plan, like they did in Camden, NJ: they dissolved their police department, and started over:
    https://www.npr.org/2020/06/08/872470135/new-police-force-from-scratch-n-j-city-proves-its-possible-to-reform-the-police

    Not everything they did in Camden will work here, but their approach was the right one.

    https://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-camden-disbands-police-force-for-new-department.html

    ReplyDelete
  27. US police have their foundations in slave catching and physical union busting. They are now completely out of control. We must eliminate police and start over with community safety as the priority, and provide that safety in other ways.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So Seattle policy began with slave catching and physical union busting? Are you really serious? Do you have a serious suggestion of how to provide safety "in other ways."?

      Delete
  28. Aaron Ross Colman at vox has the best overview of what defund and abolition of police means to different parties I’ve read: https://www.vox.com/21312191/police-reform-defunding-abolition-black-lives-matter-protests

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm reminded of the words of the late Rep. John Lewis: "Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble."

    I defy you to point to a time in history when winning rights and creating fundamental change didn't require "good trouble." It's ALWAYS necessary.

    Having said that, YES ... WE WILL ALWAYS NEED POLICE. But the essential question is "WHAT ARE THE POLICE FOR? We need them to catch criminals, yes. But most of their time is not involved with that. We need to scale beck the role of police. Should police spend their time monitoring and directing traffic? Responding to mental crises or medical crises? Herding thousands of peaceful protesters while (purposely) ignoring the few rioters who commit mayhem? Should police be in charge of 911? Directing traffic at exits of provate garages? Directing traffic at construction sites?

    I don't know the %, but I'd bet somewhere close to 50% of police time is spent on things unrelated to crime. Cleave off all those unessential roles into organizations best suited for those roles. Reduce the size of the police force to Let the police concentrate on real crime so they can concentrate on crime.

    Most importantly, change the culture of the police. Get rid of the officers who don't live and breath that their role is to be a FORCE FOR GOOD.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Sure, demand cuts to police funding. When your family member is violently attacked and no one arrives we will see how valiantly you stand on this position. Its almost comical.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well considering that American police are as likely to cause the harm as to prevent it, not wanting police to cause harm in our communities is a pretty easy position to stand by under any circumstance!

      Delete
    2. J...this seems a pretty outrageous station. Can you give some documentation that police are as likely to cause harm as prevent it? The papers I have seen have indicated the opposite...cliff

      Delete
  31. Cliff Mass, while I fully agree with you that completely defunding the police is moronic, you didn't do much in your post to address the reasons why the CHAZ existed in the first place. When cops come in and literally physically assault peaceful protesters, that's when things backlashed in a huge way.

    Better is better. More is not better! We need "more better" police officers. It is true that the essential origin of policing was to profile, attack and catch fleeing black people. This deep culture MUST change. Speak to any black human about their experience with cops, and its clear. You and me, as highly privileged white males have no idea what Black Americans have experienced.

    You mentioned absolutely nothing about Police Unions, and their insanely immoral protection for even criminal murderous cops. I have huge respect for police officers as human beings and I once even thought about applying to the Police Academy, but I also understand the larger culture at play. I disagree with the far left on nearly everything, but I equally disagree with the far right.

    We need massive, widespread police reform and robust legal consequences for police brutality and police killing of civilians without due cause.

    I appreciate your perspective, and your clear use of evidence to back up your positions. However, I also think you can increase your social intelligence and try to wrap your mind around WHY people are so furious, and then actually respect that point of view enough to post something that gives due diligence to both sides of this debate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Russman...there is absolutely no evidence that the police just assaulted peaceful protesters. Some of the protestors started damaging businesses and he police tried to intervene...this is proper and lawful. The problem is that violent destructive individuals are embedding themselves with non-violent protestors. You are too hard on the police and neglecting the destructive actions of a number of protestors.

      Delete
  32. I applied for a concealed pistol license and now carry a handgun anytime I go downtown, to Cap Hill, or the CD. I didn't use to feel that was necessary.

    You can thank Seattle's political leadership for one more gun on the street. Mine.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Cliff, we are mostly in agreement but budgets don't come from thin air. Officer salaries (understandably) start pretty high. Much higher than a social worker. The salary of two fresh police officers would likely cover three to four new social workers. This increases the total number of people available to respond to non-violent incidents--a potent and cost-effective investment in reducing future crime. If you have a strategy for convincing Seattleites to reliably and significantly raise taxes for social services, I'm all ears.

    Elsewhere you mentioned that you nearly got run over while on a bicycle, but the police helped you. Did the experience involve a daring shoot-out or did you just fill out a police report that could've been handled by an unarmed civil servant? I do not want my USPS carrier to be armed and expecting violence at every turn. It baffles me why we are so keen to use armed law enforcement to solve affairs that are not likely to break out into violence.

    Much respect,
    - Artemis Thunder

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is no reason we can't use social workers or others to deal with some issues...and that is already happening with the homeless and parking. But there are clearly insufficient police available for safety issue...the situation in the U district is a good example. The riots downtown are another.

      That person deliberately tried to harm me with potential fatal force...this is a job for the police...cliff

      Delete
  34. I have a friend in SPD. She says they have 4 detectives, but because of training requirements, only 3 are routinely available. The 4th is in training. I think SPD has made a lot of progress. If still more is needed, the problem does not lie in the volume of required training.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment! Perhaps what is really needed is to defund the city council. All but two of them seem to want to destroy the city. Unfortunately until voters wise up and throw out the bums it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel here.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you Cliff. For those who tell you to shut up or stick to the weather, you have got to be kidding. This is America and everyone has a right to speak. In fact, it is your responsibility.

    One side of the Defund the Police movement has been louder than the other. Now the strategy is to try and completely shut out other viewpoints. That is never good. In this country, ideas are debated and the best ones rise to the top.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Your description of the situation is as accurate as your forecasts. I totally agree with you!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Go Cliff go. Thank you for your honest and forceful analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Keep up the great work Cliff! I really appreciate you looking at situations in a 'three-dimensional' way. I appreciate you challenging people and presenting facts, even when they may not be popular!

    ReplyDelete
  40. When the President of the city council declares that officers will be laid off based on race, everyone should be concerned. The council passes legislation that is unconstitutional and waits for a judges ruling. The city council no longer listens to the people they represent. This should concern all of us. Vote the rascals out.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Change is needed but 50% defunding of the police will invariably lead to more crime. Criminals aren't just going to disappear. Bad people do bad things. A mental health worker or a social worker isn't going to stop a gang war or an armed robbery. But more mental health and addiction resources are needed. Maybe some of that can come out of the police budget but 50% is far too much of a cut and too fast. Actually the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs for personal use should also be the goal here. We need to look at the European model when it comes to addiction. Harm reduction, easily accesible safe-injection sites and drug addicts treated like people that need both medical and mental help and not treated like criminals.

    ReplyDelete
  42. SPD has always had a habit of doing stings, first on sex workers and then on their customers:

    https://crosscut.com/2018/11/seattles-latest-prostitution-sting-progressive-or-misguided

    If their budget gets reduced it may make the city think about how to approach social problems in a more efficient manner.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Here is a better-documented source on the challenges and opportunities in reducing the police budget: https://sccinsight.com/2020/06/30/understanding-the-seattle-police-department-budget/

    ReplyDelete
  44. Here is a link to a petition to ask city council to not defund the police by 50% on Monday. It is probably too late unless a large number of people quickly speak up like you have Cliff. Perhaps you can use your blog and to get more support for the position you outline in this post.

    https://www.change.org/p/seattle-council-don-t-defund-seattle-police-reject-irresponsible-and-dangerous-budget-cut-proposal

    ReplyDelete