Seattle City Council unanimously voted Monday to move 911 dispatching operations out of the control of the Seattle Police Department and into the hands of a newly established civilian-led Community Safety and Communications Center.
Seattle City Council has been at the forefront of the popular democratic 'Defund the Police' movement and this is yet another way for city leaders to create a civilian-led police force, a prominent goal of the movement.
The bill will transfer 140 Seattle PD 911 call center positions to the civilian-led Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC).
Sergeant Randy Huserik told Komo News that 911 dispatching services will continue to run out of the West Precinct until the CSCC building is built.
Sgt. Huserik also mentioned that the Seattle City Council doesn’t have a timeline on when the move will take place.
The latest move comes as a way for Seattle City Council to reallocate funds from the Seattle Police Departments budget.
The bill that passed on Monday initially proposed to move parking enforcement out of SPD’s control; however, Seattle City Council halted the decision until the labor unions are complete.
City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who is facing a recall, was critical of the bill and said it shouldn’t be celebrated since police officers weren’t slashed from the department.
"These accounting changes alter nothing about the number of police officers in Seattle and the amount of policing in Seattle," Sawant said. "The only change is in the name of the department signing the paychecks."
Councilmember Andrew Lewis fired back and said it’s the "first step" in reimagining policing.
"It does represent a very structural shift in our ability to recalibrate and re-hook up our dispatch apparatus to things that are not police response systems," Lewis said.
Lewis mentioned the decision to halt the reallocation of the parking enforcement department and said, "It doesn’t mean that we won’t ultimately put the parking enforcement officers into this new unit, but it just means we’ll do it in a way that’s intentional and that does not create division in those work force between the supervision and rank and file," KOMO News reports.
Parking Enforcement Officers supported the move to leave the Seattle Police Department.
During public comment, one parking enforcement officer said, "This is a pragmatic step forward on the road to reimagine policing – a unique opportunity I hope the full council still recognizes," KOMO News reports.
Seattle City Council has so far slashed over $50 million to the Seattle Police Department’s budget. Due to the budget cuts, Seattle is currently experiencing record-breaking homicides and detrimental slow response times, as officers fail to respond to calls in a timely fashion due to low staffing levels.