SPOG president: Continued exodus of Seattle police officers ‘a community crisis’

Apr 27, 2021, 5:19 AM
Two Seattle police officers. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department, SPD layoffs...
Two Seattle police officers. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department/SPD Blotter)
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department/SPD Blotter)

On Monday, KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show reported that 66 officers have parted ways with the Seattle Police Department so far this year, and that number could balloon to 100 by the end of May. So, what’s driving this ongoing trend?

Seattle Police Department details changes since George Floyd’s death

Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan points to a continued lack of support from city leadership.

“They’re looking for greener pastures in jurisdictions where they’re actually going to get political support, … places where they feel they can take pride in their profession by being welcomed by political leaders in those other cities and counties, where they’re going to feel valued,” Solan told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show.

As Solan points out, both Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council “applauded this agency as the model of reform for other agencies to emulate” early in 2020, culminating in a court motion submitted by City Attorney Pete Holmes that had asked to end SPD’s federal consent decree.

But after a series of clashes between protesters and police following the death of George Floyd, the city rescinded that motion. As Solan points out, that was when city leaders began pulling back on their support for SPD.

“They couldn’t run away from us fast enough, and a lot of our people see this as a straight-up betrayal by our elected leaders,” he noted.

Seattle Police Guild Pres: ‘We can’t politicize public safety’

In 2020, SPD saw 193 officers depart in the midst of the Seattle City Council approving historic cuts to the department’s budget, albeit far less than the 50% reduction seven of nine councilmembers had called for in May of last year.

The sum total is what Solan labels “a community crisis that is strictly in the camp of our elected officials,” which has led to a 26-year-high homicide rate, progressively slower 911 response times, and city precincts struggling to meet minimum staffing requirements.

As for what the future holds for SPD, Solan remains uncertain.

“I keep trying to wrap my head around this predicament, and the predicament is I still don’t see what the endgame is on behalf of our politicians,” he said.

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SPOG president: Continued exodus of Seattle police officers ‘a community crisis’