‘This year has been like none other’: Interim SPD chief pens holiday letter to officers
Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz penned a lengthy letter to his officers on Christmas Eve, detailing a trying year in the realm of law enforcement.
Diaz — who stepped in to lead the department in September after then-Chief Carmen Best handed in her resignation — offered his “appreciation and thanks” to SPD’s officers, while pointing out the numerous obstacles they encountered in 2020.
“During a once-in-a-generation pandemic you never stopped serving the people of this city or supporting each other,” he wrote. “You facilitated civil rights demonstrations while also protecting the public from violent individuals who co-opted the call for change. You kept showing up to work, even in precincts that were boarded up and persistently the targets of violence.”
2020 has seen over 100 officers leave SPD for other cities and counties, with many citing what they feel is a city hostile to law enforcement.
The summer months saw unprecedented protests take shape across the nation. In Seattle, officers regularly clashing with demonstrators, while activists called to defund the department by 50% as means to redirecting more money into social programs.
Ultimately, Seattle City Council and the mayor’s office agreed to a reworked budget cutting roughly 17% of SPD’s budget, but even that compromise hasn’t slowed the exodus of officers from the department’s ranks.
Because of that, Diaz touted a goal to “hire as many officers as we can” in 2021 to fill those gaps.
“In one year we lost the equivalent of our South and Southwest precincts. You responded by being flexible and answering the call to support patrol,” he said. “Here is an ask of you – if you know someone who you think would be a good SPD officer, or someone thinking of coming back, please let them know we are hiring.”
City leaders have vowed to continue discussing reforms to how the city views policing. That includes the implementation of an unarmed community service officers program, which will be tasked with responding to specific types of calls for service that don’t necessitate the presence of an armed patrol officer.