The Seattle Police Department saw its budget significantly cut in 2020 as the “defund the police” movement swept through several Democrat-controlled U.S. cities.
The City Council slashed money for the police department’s Navigation Team as part of the budget reduction. This unit was responsible for removing people from violent homeless camps that have sprung up across the city and referring the homeless to available social services.
However, the police officers assigned to the Navigation Team have not been discharged from the department. They have been placed on a personal protection detail for Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Meanwhile, violent crime inside Seattle’s homeless camps continues to rise, and early retirements and resignations in the police department deplete patrol staffing numbers.
Seattle Police sources have confirmed that officers formerly on the defunct Navigation Team and other patrol officers now provide around-the-clock security outside the mayor’s private seven-figure residence.
Multiple civic events that have been held for decades have been postponed or canceled as a result of the spread of violence associated with homeless encampments. Broadview-Thomson Elementary School has undergone recent lockdowns due to homeless persons entering the school from a nearby encampment. The school is in the same police precinct as the mayor’s home.
Durkan was an early supporter of multiple defunding measures regarding the police department, although she was initially opposed to cutting the Navigation Team’s funding. She has now expressed concern over the decreasing number of police officers remaining with the department.
The mayor was deemed to need additional police protection at her home after city council member Kshama Sawant led a large group of activists to the mayor’s home during the 2020 riots following the death of George Floyd. The group was composed of Antifa and Black Lives Matter members and marched on the mayor’s residence, demanding that the city defund its police force.
Sawant is being challenged with recall in the next election. Her recall was prompted by the marches on the mayor’s home and other threats found to be credible by the Washington Supreme Court.