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Seattle council votes to approve $15K police bonus

(KIRO Radio,Matt Pitman)

Seattle City Council voted Monday to approve hiring bonuses for new police officers.

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The bonuses approved by the council — originally proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan — are sizable, including $15,000 for new officers coming over from other police departments, and $7,500 for new recruits.

The vote passed by a 7-1 margin, with Councilmember Kshama Sawant operating as the lone “no” vote, not long after a resolution she proposed to block a Durkan appointee failed to pass.

“We want Seattle to hire and retain the best police officers in the country to protect our city and continue the hard, critical work of reform,” Mayor Durkan said in a news release.

The decision to provide hefty bonuses to new SPD officers comes during a tough time for law enforcement’s relationship with the city.

By the end of August 2018, the SPD had lost a staggering 77 officers, with 29 officers resigning, outpacing the 63 officers they hired, many of whom are recruits not in the field. The number of officers lost during that period was troubling for many in the department.

RELATED: ‘Historically large number’ of cops leaving Seattle PD

“It’s too high,” SPD Chief Carmen Best told KTTH’s Jason Rantz on August 30 when discussing the numbers, before they were made public. “We need more people. Every person we lose is not a good situation for us.”

Durkan’s office acknowledged that exodus in a statement on the new bonuses, noting that SPD has suffered through “historically low employment,” the result of a 67 percent drop in applications from other police departments since 2015.

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