The Sessions family has a unique perspective of Lynnwood’s budget crisis.
She works in the Crime Prevention Unit of the Lynnwood Police Department. Her husband is a Lynnwood firefighter. Together, the future of their jobs is uncertain as the City Council considers sweeping cuts.
Shannon Sessions, who also serves as the police department’s spokesperson, told the City Council Monday night that public safety is at risk if they slash the police and fire budgets.
“Please don’t keep me if you’re going to cut half the police and fire departments and then leave me to try to explain and spin on TV, radio and through the newspapers why Lynnwood public safety can’t respond to them as quickly any longer and why we don’t have the resources we once had to cleanup their drug houses or clear the drug buys from our grocery store parking lots and curb the overt prostitution and gang activity from our corners — because I won’t do it,” she said.
As we reported last month, the Lynnwood Police Department has been told to find ways to cut 25 percent of its budget. That could mean a loss of 25 out of 80 officers and most special programs. The fire department has also been told to cut back.
“As much as we love and use many of the departments of this city, they have nothing if they’re not safe and protected. All departments aren’t equal.” She continued, “this is a sad state that we’re in and unfortunately no matter how hard or how well Lynnwood city employees work, we and the city residents will be held accountable for not only the downturn in the economy, yes, but also the ongoing mismanaging of funds, bad decision making and egocentric politics that this leadership continues.”
She encouraged the council members to visit each department to find out what really happens and what’s really needed — even in good times.
“What I wouldn’t do is cover my head in the sand and declare that this city isn’t in a crisis, and instead tell media, staff members and any citizens I can that all is OK and we don’t need to panic. Or say anyone who is out looking for another job is ‘jumping the gun.’ These are real people with real families. They don’t have time to wait for you,” she said.
“We know cuts and raising taxes is inevitable. As we are waiting for you, we’re losing great people — many highly talented young officers and support staff will now be lost to other departments. Not to mention how each officer/firefighter who is left will be personally impacted.”
Sessions told unnamed council members they were being too passive and not taking a leadership role, not asking hard questions, and allowing the rest of the council to “flounder about.”
Some council members have urged people to be cautious because it’s still relatively early in the budget process. The new budget must be approved in December.