In his annual State of the City address, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray doubled down on his effort to add more police to city streets.
“I committed to hiring 100 more officers over attrition in my first term. We are on track to meet that goal. And we are doing it with a significant increase in diversity among recruits,” Murray said in front of a packed council chambers Tuesday afternoon.
“I recognize we need more officers for better visibility throughout our city,” he said. “We will add 100 additional officers to my original goal for an overall goal of 200 net officers.”
Murray continued to say that the increase in officers “will not be free.” He plans to present the city council will a proposal to pay for the additional officers.
Murray also said the city needs to, and will, ensure that all Seattle officers in the future will be equipped with body cameras.
The mayor added that the Seattle police force is in a state of evolution and continues to improve in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice. He noted that even President Barack Obama has praised Seattle for the strides the city has taken. He also referenced the Black Lives Matter movement as an example of the challenges police forces face as they make changes.
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“The very need to recognize that black lives matter is the result of systemic, institutional failures to address racism in our society,” he said. “Even in progressive Seattle, we inherited a police force under a federal consent decree, because of patterns of constitutional violations over use of force, and serious concerns over racially biased policing.”
Seattle, according to Murray, has made great strides toward compliance with goals set by a federal monitor with the DOJ.
Shortly after the mayor’s speech, the Department of Justice announced that Seattle has officially reached nine out of 15 formal assessments. A federal monitor concluded that “there has been real, tangible, and objective change in the way Seattle police are interacting, compassionately and with an eye towards treatment, with those in crisis.”
The assessment notes that Seattle police are: dispatching a large trained force of crisis intervention officers in a majority of instances; using force in less than 2 percent of instances, and when they do use force, 80 percent is the lowest level of force; and guiding people in crisis to social services rather than arresting them and placing them in jail.