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Rantz: Seattle police ‘on the verge of extinction’ over contract dispute, cop says

(Matt Pitman, KIRO Radio)

As the Seattle City Council skirts their responsibility in evaluating and passing the years-overdue police contract, a shocking number of cops have reached out to say they will be leaving the Seattle Police Department. It’s the worst case scenario that Command Staff envisioned.

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez is pushing for an independent review of the contract by a lawyer, to ensure that the new contract doesn’t undo previous police accountability reforms. This is literally the job of the council but I suppose they’re acknowledging they’re not independent — too far gone with the anti-cop fervor.

Indeed, Gonzalez is herself a lawyer, though perhaps not a very good one if she needs another contracted lawyer to review the contract. Another lawyer, Mayor Jenny Durkan, supports this contract as-is.

Since this news broke, a number of cops have reached out to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to express their disgust. Some of the cops are veterans, some are young officers. Others have already left and have heard from former SPD colleagues asking questions about making a move themselves.

“I have now had 32 different officers contact me in the past five days seeking information on the process to lateral to another agency,” one former SPD officer told me. “Six in the past two hours due to the recent press release in regards to the contract needing independent review.”

How many end up leaving is yet-unknown, but this former officer connected me with a young officer to the SPD who says he’s already started the process of leaving.

“The Seattle Police Department is on the verge of extinction,” the officer told me. “The City of Seattle and our chain of command cannot comprehend how low morale among patrol officers is …What you are about to witness is a catastrophic exodus…”

This isn’t the over-the-top reaction of one officer. Over a dozen officers have reached out to express similar concern. I’ve spoken to several who say they’re either in the process of leaving or about to start the process.

This was a legitimate fear from the Command Staff within the SPD.

“I’m really, really gravely concerned if this does not pass,” Chief Carmen Best told the Jason Rantz Show last week. “I’m worried that we will lose officers, I don’t know how many … because they won’t feel supported. I think that will happen. Not only that, we will not be able to hire officers. Why come in for lower than fair wages when you can go work for another organization? We are already competing with other police organizations, with the private sector for jobs. This is not going to be easy under the best circumstances. If we don’t have a contact, it’s going to be difficult times.”

“At [your] last story, the mass exodus was a concern, but the contract was going to alleviate that,” a member of the command staff said, asking to remain anonymous. “If the contract is blocked, the city stands to lose body cameras and it would mean fewer officers on the streets, and providing emergency services for the next year and a half, while labor talks are mired in arbitration. We will see a mass exodus … officers will leave.”

Even if the council ends up passing the contract (either as-is or eventually amended), it may be that damage is too big to undo for some officers.

“Even if this contract does pass, the city just showed that all of our hard work has been for nothing,” the officer explained. “We have been busting our (butts) and continuously been slapped in the face. There is no return. No one wants to work here as is.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday mornings from 6-9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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