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Mayor Durkan puts $1.6M toward hiring, retention for short-staffed SPD

Mayor Jenny Durkan and SPD Chief Carmen Best. (Mayor Durkan, Twitter)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced $1.6 million in spending for the 2020 budget to improve hiring and retention for Seattle police.

Seattle hoping to draw experienced cops with $15,000 hiring bonus

The money will be put toward strengthened recruiting efforts, as well as faster hiring processes, and more.

“As Seattle grows, we must make sure we are recruiting, hiring and retaining the most experienced officers who can provide public safety and are committed to lasting reform,” Durkan said in a Tuesday news release. “That’s how we can build the best and most effective community policing department in America.”

Over the last year, the Seattle Police Department has seen many of its officers leave for other cities, citing poor treatment from the Mayor’s Office and City Council. A recent survey indicated that a portion of officers feel as though they are over-scrutinized by the Office of Police Accountability.

In June 2018, reports surfaced that SPD had seen 41 departures through the first five months of the year. By the end of the year, 109 officers had left the department, far exceeding the 79 separations in 2017.

“There are lots of people walking out the door,” an officer explained to KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “This is a mass exodus. We’re losing people left and right. Why stick around when the City Council doesn’t appreciate you? [These officers are] fleeing the ‘Seattle mentality.’”

‘Historically large number’ of cops leaving Seattle PD, outpaces hiring

The hope with the most recent investment from the city is to incentivize officers to stay in Seattle, while bringing in new talent to fill the ranks of a short-staffed department.

“The Seattle Police Department – like many other departments across the nation – has been facing staffing shortages and challenges in recruiting and retaining officers,” SPD Chief Carmen Best said Tuesday. “Our city deserves the best quality police services, and the members of the SPD deserve to be supported in their careers.”

That’s a concern shared by many Seattleites, who described police staffing as one of their top concerns in a public safety report conducted by Seattle University.

Additionally, $847,000 of the city’s 2020 budget will be put toward the continuation of emphasis patrols, in an effort to improve public safety across seven separate neighborhoods in Seattle.

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