Lt. Brendan Kolding on why he left SPD to run for Seattle City Council
Lieutenant Brendan Kolding’s last day with the Seattle Police Department was this past Friday, after 10 years on the job.
He left the force to commit full-time to his run for Seattle City Council as a candidate in West Seattle (District 1), currently occupied by Councilmember Lisa Herbold.
“A strong part of my motivation in running for city council is to support the department. Officers don’t currently feel supported by the city council,” he said. “And they need someone on the council who understands law enforcement, and understands the dynamics of police work.”
Now that he’s no longer a cop, Kolding says it’s easier to speak more openly about police issues in relation to the city council, which he feels has created a culture of hostility that is unhelpful.
“It’s been very much in vogue to demonize the police in this city,” Kolding said. “That’s not reflective of the majority of the citizens. But for some reason it’s something that, as an elected official, you’re able to get away with because there’s a sentiment that they choose to appeal to (the idea) that the police are a problem.”
By the end of August 2018, SPD had lost 77 officers, with 29 officers resigning. This outpaced the 63 officers hired at that time, many of whom are recruits not in the field. Alleged reasons range from a toxic relationship with the city council, to the fact officers worked years without a contract with the city.
While the city council recently voted to approve hiring bonuses for new police officers — which include $15,000 for new officers coming over from other police departments, and $7,500 for new recruits — Kolding believes the money will only help in the short-term, but fails to address the core issues.
“In the short-term, it will increase our ability to hire, but it won’t help us retain the officers we already have,” he said. “It won’t inspire the officers we get from this program to not leave in two or three years, and ultimately it denies the fact that it’s not just about money.”
“It’s about the way an officer feels he’s treated by the city council, it’s about the risk he feels he puts himself at by doing proactive police work, by doing the job he’s been hired to do and trained to do. We need a supportive city government.”