Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best appeared stunned this week when confronted with City Council member Lisa Herbold’s suggestion that laying off police officers due to a defunding of the department could be done by a race basis rather than seniority.
“It is illegal to make layoffs based on race,” Ms. Best promptly told a local CBS affiliate on Wednesday. “I’m not sure where she is getting her legal advice from, but the persons who are advising us are making sure we understand that it’s illegal to do that.”
Ms. Herbold’s idea comes in conjunction with efforts to defund SPD and nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
“In the case layoffs are necessary, one threat is firing BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] officers first,” the council member tweeted Monday. “Chief can request the Public Safety Civil Service Commission ED for permission to lay off ‘out of order’ when doing so is in “the interest of efficient operations of his or her department.”
“This means Chief doesn’t have to fire the newest hired first,” she continued. “Chief says firing BIPOC members of the SPD would be harmful & I agree. I know she can argue just as convincingly that maintaining the employment of BIPOC officers is in the interest of efficient operations of the SPD.”
In short, critics of laying off cops with the least seniority say doing so would result in 47 Black officers leaving the ranks.
That plan would also cut 526 White officers from the force.
Reporter Linzi Sheldon said one SPD idea for layoffs includes “looking at the number of sustained complaints against officers,” the station reported.