Seattle police chief warns of 'staffing crisis,' fewer responses as city weighs $5.4M budget cut

‘Nobody coming to help’: Radio host slams Seattle police budget cuts

Ari Hoffman talks additional proposed budgets cuts to Seattle police.

Seattle’s police chief has warned city lawmakers this week of a potential “staffing crisis beyond mitigation” — and officers having to say “no to requests for services” — as they consider slashing $5.4 million from the department’s budget this year. 

The comments Chief Adrian Diaz made to the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee come as the Seattle Police Department tells Fox News that its average response time to high-priority 911 calls last year was 9.58 minutes, falling short of its outlined goal of 7 minutes.  

“If, moving forward, the department is expected to meet ever-evolving demands, while confronting significantly reduced staffing – now indexed to matching reductions in available budget – SPD will have to say no to requests for services – something we already have had to do this year,” Diaz said Tuesday.  

Seattle’s police chief says the wellness of its officers "is essential to their ability to provide the type of police service the community expects."

SEATTLE POLICE BUDGET CUTS SLAMMED AS OFFICERS TAKE LONGER TO RESPOND TO PRIORITY CALLS 

“The best way to stop the losses, and to drive hiring, is to stop the ad hoc cutting of the budget,” he continued. “The staffing losses some seemed to hope for have happened – not through any informed process of rethinking or reimaging the work we do. My concern is that if we don’t change course, these losses will continue and we will have a staffing crisis beyond mitigation.” 

The Seattle Police Department saw 186 members leave last year, with only 51 new officers joining the force, according to KOMO News. Citywide, it counts 1,260 officers amongst its ranks, the station added. 

“The work has not changed yet I have over 200 fewer officers to deploy to the work,” Diaz told the committee Tuesday. “This is both not feasible and counter-productive. We are exhausting our officers. Their wellness is essential to their ability to provide the type of police service the community expects. 

MINNEAPOLIS ‘AUTONOMOUS ZONE’ JEOPARDIZES RESIDENTS AMID DEREK CHAUVIN TRIAL, POLICE ASSOCIATION SAYS 

Seattle police taking nearly 20 minutes to arrive for high priority calls: radio host

Ari Hoffman discusses the impact of budget cuts on Seattle police.

“I need to be able to commit both more sworn and civilian resources to our such needed wellness efforts — but I can’t do that when I don’t know what budget I have while our staffing challenges also intensify,” he added. 

After hearing Diaz’s remarks, the committee discussed but took no action, KOMO News reports.  

“So many people have left the department and we are so hamstrung in our ability to hire back, it is starting to really have risks to public safety,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan separately told the station. 

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The council and the mayor’s office did not respond to Fox News’ requests for further comment. 

The council, according to the Seattle Times, is considering the $5.4 million budget reduction to make up for extra overtime spending the police department accumulated in 2020 – in a year marked by protests. 

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