(NewsNation) — Despite a loss of more than 400 officers over the past two years, Seattle’s interim police chief is hopeful his department can begin making progress on combating a rise in crime.
The city just had its deadliest month on record, with 11 homicides in August, according to the police crime dashboard that goes back to 2008. More than 500 shootings have been recorded this year, a jump of at least 40% from last year.
Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz said Thursday on “Dan Abrams Live” that there’s been a change in crime patterns, too.
“There isn’t an area of the city that hasn’t seen some level of violent crime,” Diaz said. “Before, it was maybe in different pockets of the city, but now it’s throughout the city.”
The rise in crime comes as Diaz’s force is grappling with funding cuts that were instituted in 2020 during a nationwide push to “defund” police departments, oftentimes reallocating that money to other city departments. The activist movement was marked by a summer of protests — sometimes violent — that began with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
When the Seattle City Council approved its 2021 budget in November 2020, it reduced police funding by nearly 10%. In November 2021, the city approved a 2022 budget of $355 million that included funds to hire 125 officers.
In many cities where leaders vowed to cut police funds, the reverse has been true, according to the Wall Street Journal. Seattle leaders in 2020 backed off an initial pledge to slash the police budget by 50%.
Diaz said this year, with the support of a new mayor and city attorney, police are getting back to the work that needs to be done.
“It’s been … difficult for two years to have gone by, but we’re hoping that we’re on pace to be able to build up our ranks and address the crime that we need to address,” he said. “I think people recognize that we need officers to go out and make sure that this city is safe.”
Mayor Bruce Harrell is set to release a proposed 2023 budget sometime this month, and Diaz said he’s hopeful for the future of the police department.
“Morale was very, very low in 2020, and every year it continues to move up,” Diaz said. “I feel officers do see light at the end of the tunnel.”