Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the changes sought by the Department of Justice to the Seattle police force would cost the city $41 million a year, a number he called “frankly, shocking.”
Speaking on KUOW this morning, the mayor said the potential number of new officers and the amount of training the DOJ is seeking under a proposed consent decree would mean deep cuts to other city programs including mental health and substance abuse treatment, which he said would compromise public safety. The city is facing a $30 million budget shortfall for 2013.
“We are prepared to spend money … but not in a way that compromises public safety,” McGinn said on his monthly radio show appearance.
The mayor also said the degree of oversight being sought by the DOJ would mean getting permission from an outside monitor to change tactics in a developing situation, hampering his ability to issue immediate orders to the police and the department’s ability to respond.
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McGinn’s remarks came in advance of Wednesday’s deadline to respond to the proposed consent decree issued by the DOJ in response to findings of widespread and routine excessive force and evidence of biased policing. City Attorney Pete Holmes is scheduled to brief the City Council this morning in executive session over the ongoing negotiations with the DOJ.
The specifics of the consent decree and the negotiations with the DOJ are supposed to be secret, but some details have leaked out to the press in the past week. McGinn said that in talking about the city’s position he wanted to set the record straight.
McGinn said the sticking points between the city and the DOJ are not the monitoring or the oversight, but rather the substance of the DOJ proposal. He said the city will propose a court order and a monitor, but will not agree to conditions that limit its ability to respond to developing events such as violent protests, or that would seriously impact its budget.