Police and public safety hotspots in Seattle mayor’s debate | National government and new policies

By CHRIS GRYGIEL Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) – Police, public safety and racism accusations dominated the latest televised debate between the two vying to be Seattle’s next mayor.

Lorena González and Bruce Harrell diverged Thursday night over police personnel, with Harrell criticizing his opponent for supporting the fundraising moment after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.

“She said publicly she was going to reimburse 50%,” said Harrell, a former city councilor, who called for hiring more police officers to stem an increase in shootings.

González, the chairman of the city council, responded by saying that the Seattle Police Department needed to be overhauled. The department is under federal supervision after the U.S. Department of Justice uncovered a pattern of excessive force and biased police evidence.

“The SPD is no longer just a department that we have to reform, we have to transform it,” she said. González says she wants to reassess how the city can invest in non-law enforcement systems for public safety that can complement officers on the streets.

And she said Harrell was using the label of “police funding” to deviate from her own lack of public safety alternatives.

“It’s not just about hiring more guns and badges,” she said.

Harrell said it was González who was trying to change the subject of his support for cutting the police budget, which he said is wrong. He said he would appoint a cabinet-level post to tackle the rise in gun violence in the city.

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