According to The Seattle Times, $5 million worth of illegal parking fines and other administrative errors were generated as a result of the city’s efforts to cut its police department and spread some of its functions across other departments.
The city of Seattle is giving back approximately 100,000 parking tickets worth around $5 million total in the third quarter of 2021, finding that civilian parking enforcement personnel did not have the legal authority to issue them, according to The Seattle Times. During this time, traffic cops also hauled over 10,000 automobiles and impounded 1,700 vehicles without having the right authority during this time.
“I know we will be sued here. And I’m going to pass all of those lawsuits to the city,” said Chuck Labertew, who is the president of Lincoln Towing, which is the only company used for city-initiated towing.
Removing this duty from cops was part of a push by City Hall in 2020 to minimize police funding and have civilians perform tasks that previously fell within the purview of law enforcement. The City Council lowered the police budget by around 17% in 2020, far short of its goal of 50%.
The city’s mistake might not be restricted to the $5 million of refunded tickets: people will probably challenge tows and impounds which were approved by the non-police parking authorities, as reported by The Seattle Times. However, the city will not automatically reimburse tows under such circumstances.
To add to the $5 million parking ticket kerfuffle, efforts to defund the police have impeded law enforcement’s ability to bring perpetrators of serious offenses to justice. According to The Seattle Times, the Seattle P.D. is now unable to investigate new sexual assault accusations because of manpower after over 400 police officers departed.
Crime has increased dramatically in the city in recent years: The city experienced a 95% increase in gun fire and a 171 percent rise in people shot from last year to this one, as reported by The Seattle Times. In 2021, Seattle’s violent crime rose 20%, which was unchanged for 30 years.