Rantz: Seattle Police on pace to lose nearly 200 officers in mass exodus this year

Dec 27, 2020, 4:21 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2020, 5:31 am
Seattle police, police tactics...
The Seattle Police Department is on pace to lose 200 officers by the end of the year. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

The Seattle Police Department is on pace to lose nearly 200 officers by the end of the year in a historic mass exodus, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned. The vast majority of those who left the department are patrol officers.

By the end of November, the official number of separations was 164. Since then, more officers have offered their resignations to take jobs at neighboring agencies. Put bluntly, the city does not have enough officers to keep the area safe.

As of this publication date, sources tell me the SPD actually has 191 separations — an all-inclusive term covering resignations, retirements, and firings. The president of the Seattle police union ominously warns “these numbers are only just the tip of the iceberg.” Officially, the city will only acknowledge the November data (with the note that more have left in December).

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Seattle Police Department’s shocking mass exodus

No one could have anticipated this many officers leaving Seattle at the beginning of the year.

The city invested in recruitment efforts to overcome 2018’s shocking wave of officer separations. Indeed, after initially desperately spinning the data (including in front of a federal judge), the city eventually acknowledged the 109 officer separations as “historically large.”

In 2019, there was a rebound of sorts. Under then-Chief Carmen Best, the SPD made significant strides in hiring, including a more diverse recruitment class, resulting in 92 hires (including 16 lateral hires from other agencies).

But then, after the death of George Floyd this year, area activists successfully lobbied the Seattle City Council to ramp up their rhetorical attacks on police.

Attacks on Seattle police push mass exodus

The council and mayor stayed silent as criminal activists physically assaulted cops at riots referred to as “peaceful protests.”

Police were ordered out of their precinct by Mayor Jenny Durkan for what she called a “summer of love” — one that resulted in the murder of two Black teenagers. When Antifa thugs cemented shut the door of the East Precinct while trying to set the building on fire, not a single councilmember said a thing. Activists and the council ran the city’s first Black, female police chief out of town.

At the same time, the council renewed efforts to protect criminals. Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a radical from West Seattle, is forwarding legislation that effectively legalizes most misdemeanor crimes if committed by the poor or mentally ill. Police officers aren’t allowed to do their jobs.

Ultimately, the council defunded the SPD by 18% with promises of more cuts.

As a consequence, many officers called it quits, moving to other agencies in the area. For example, Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer confirmed he’s hired nine SPD officers already. And the Spokane Police Department just welcomed four SPD officers into their ranks.

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‘Nonsensical activism’

Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan confirms 191 separations. He doesn’t normally confirm staffing numbers “because that should come from the department as far as being the official, official number to inform the public.”

This time, however, he felt compelled to speak up.

“This is this is so serious and dire relative to everybody’s public safety in this city that this is the reality. And obviously, it takes time for paperwork to catch up, and for computers to digest the data, and for people to be informed. And then that data is then released to the public. This stuff, it does take some time. And out of respect for the department, I will recognize that,” Solan told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “But this is so serious that your listenership that reside in the city of Seattle, and I think in the region, need to understand that when we have this type of leadership — meaning from the council — that follow the nonsensical activism that’s coming from the loud, but small group of people that holds us all hostage by their activism, that is swallowing us all.”

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Seattle Police mass exodus numbers in perspective

No matter how you look at the numbers, including the new hires, the data is grim. As it currently stands at just over 1,200 deployable officers, Seattle has the lowest number of deployable staff since 1990.

In the department’s history, 2020 likely represents the largest exodus of officers. And there are still officers who are looking to exit. Sheriff Troyer in Pierce County confirms he has 15 more applicants going through background checks now. That means the separations will likely continue, but will not be counted toward 2020 stats.

Earlier this year, the city released data on separations and hires dating back to 2012. It puts the new staggering number in context.

Year Separations
2012 36
2013 39
2014 59
2015 72
2016 67
2017 79
2018 109
2019 92

At the same time, the SPD has only been able to hire 51 new officers. But only four of them (two laterals, two rehires) are ready for near-immediate redeployment. The rest must go through extensive training before being able to hit the streets.

‘Just the tip of the iceberg’

SPOG president Solan knows what’s coming, and it’s not good for public safety.

“The alarming growth of these separation numbers reflects the reality and unfortunate predicament Seattle finds itself. Sadly, this could’ve been avoided if our reasonable Seattle community had leadership at the city council level,” Solan tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH in a statement. “Due to their intentional insertion of politics into the public safety discourse, Seattle will continue to unravel socially as these numbers are only just the tip of the iceberg.”

Solan warns that the situation will continue to spiral.

“Unless the ignored, reasonable Seattle community acts right now to protect their public safety rights and hold our city council responsible for the decay of public safety in Seattle, I’m afraid Seattle will spiral deep into lawlessness,” he said. “Having said that, the remaining cops will continue to protect all citizens despite zero political support from elected officials and with dangerous staffing levels. Why? Because it’s who we are. We serve despite this unreasonable activism swallowing all of us in our community and we will go down with the ship.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Parler and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Seattle Police on pace to lose nearly 200 officers in mass exodus this year