A Seattle-area Republican pushing a new "Refund Police" initiative says suburban taxpayers have unfortunately been bearing the brunt of the far-left inner city's failed policies, as his $14.4 million push for the sheriff's office aims to offset measures tying police's hands when it comes to public safety.
King County Council Vice Chairman Reagan Dunn introduced the measure Monday to allocate a portion of the 2021 mid-biennial supplemental budget to addressing "a funding deficit" restricting abilities to maintain critical law enforcement services in unincorporated areas and cities.
"For a long time, the suburban taxpayers have been on the hook for Seattle's failed policies," Dunn told Fox News Digital. "If the city of Seattle, being a large one, won't take its responsibility to protect the public seriously, we have to step in. My ‘Refund the Police’ initiative, will build back a huge number of law enforcement personnel, as well as some specialized units."
Dunn, who is one of just two Republicans on the King County Council, told Fox News Digital measures included in his proposal, such as $830,000 in funding for four deputies and one staff person on a hate and bias unit, will be a difficult vote for his seven Democratic colleagues to say no to. After winning a fifth term on Election Day two weeks ago, Dunn attributed his victory to voters wising up to the pitfalls of a progressive agenda.
"The winning ideas, the right policies, the voters get it. And for the first time in nearly a century, the city of Seattle elected a Republican to be its city attorney," Dunn said. "It sends a message, particularly to the ‘Defund the Police’ crowd, the woke left that, ‘Hey, your policies are failing. They're not getting votes.’ In fact, any candidate who touches that is going to lose the next election. And so these are very tough votes now for my colleagues today because they know they're going to be challenged by moderates who have had enough of the way that Seattle is trying to run our community."
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Despite Seattle voters largely rejecting progressive candidates, and the mayor-elect who ran on a pro-police platform winning by a staggering 17 percentage points, the Seattle City Council once again proposed slashing the Seattle Police Department’s budget by nearly $11 million. The move even drew rebuke from Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan, who cited crisis level officer staffing shortages which have worsened from the mass resignations seen after the 2020 defund police demonstrations due to new vaccine mandates.
"The city of Seattle continues to push those failed policies of defund the police," Dunn said. "300 police officers are no longer on the streets of Seattle because of this insanity that has occurred. We have the record number of shootings this year and the record number of homicides this year and it’s largely because of this intense decriminalization that’s occurring with all crimes, as well as the blatant attempt to just burn down the entire system of community safety that we have built carefully over generations."
Dunn has witnessed the public safety issue in downtown Seattle first hand, as he told Fox News Digital a homeless encampment outside the King County Courthouse had created a "war zone" like scenario. A member of the camp recently tried to rape a county employee in a bathroom, he says, also recalling how a dead dog was found by the encampment, a two-year-old child was spotted wandering around the tents unsupervised and there was a fatal stabbing recently just outside of the courthouse.
"I literally have to step over human feces and wade through tents to get into my office building because of these absurd defund the police, tear it all down tactics that they're using," Dunn said.
Dunn’s proposal, which focuses on the King County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction in unincorporated areas as well as 12 cities in the county, including Seattle, comes at a time when there are 59 vacant deputy positions and seeks resources to recruit and retain high quality members of the force, including for a background detective, a recruiter and economic hiring incentives.
"We have 59 vacancies right now in the King County Sheriff's Office. That's significant," Dunn said. "Part of the problem is that there have been law enforcement folks getting into it have been sort of demoralized that people don't want to come to the Seattle area to police anymore. It's really tragic."
King County has seen a 19% increase in gun violence in 2020 compared to the three-year average, and 2021 has already surpassed that new record in just the first 9 months of the year with 1,036 shots fired from the first to third quarter, according to Dunn's proposal. Homicides and murders have more than doubled this year from 2018’s numbers, from 51 homicides in 2018 to 109 homicides and potential homicides so far in 2021. That amount already far surpasses 2020's record total of 95 homicides.
Despite a mounting public safety crisis, the sheriff’s office had been forced to eliminate initiatives such its traffic unit, DUI Unit, fraud unit, and gang unit, Dunn said. Other critical services that have been reduced include its domestic violence response, the child find unit which responds to kidnappings, 911 dispatching, the special assault unit which responds to sexual assault and abuse, the registered sex offender unit, K-9 precinct-level detectives, and the SWAT team.
Getting his $14.4 million package approved will take some political maneuvering with Dunn’s Democratic colleagues, but he hopes particularly the hate crime unit will convince them as budget negotiations are planned over the next few weeks. He says re-establishing the gang unit is also crucial amid record overdose deaths and would help break up fentanyl trafficking and distribution rings.
"These are tough issues for folks to vote against now, and I'm putting them in a tough spot very deliberately. Are you going to vote against a hate crimes, for example? That's a tough vote for a Democrat to take," Dunn said. "So they're going to have to come around to good criminal justice policy, which is what works. It's all been studied research. We know law enforcement on the ground doing community policing is what works. And we've got to get back to basics."