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Seattle Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, SPD
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SPD interim chief: ‘We are a safe city’ despite concerns over police staffing

Seattle Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz. (Seattle Channel)

In late April, it was revealed that the Seattle Police Department’s number of deployable officers had dipped to just over 1,000, its lowest number in years. Despite concerns from SPD interim Chief Adrian Diaz over the department’s response times to calls for service, he believes the officers they do have are still keeping the city safe.

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“If you compare us to other cities, we are a safe city,” Chief Diaz told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

Diaz points to Seattle’s “very low” homicide rates as one of the driving indicators of that. Through the end of March, the city saw a total of seven reported homicides. At that same point in each of the last two years, the city had eight.

Where SPD’s staffing shortage is starting to cause difficulties, though, is in the realm of crime prevention, particularly shootings. According to recently released data, 2020 saw a 36% increase in calls related to shots fired in King County, a trend that appears to be continuing in 2021.

“With the staffing crisis, it is difficult to be able to be more preventative and intervene at times, and having that visual deterrent of having officers out there to ensure that we don’t have shootings in our community,” Diaz described.

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While he still believes that SPD is “making the city safe” with the officers it does have, the department needs help. That has SPD partnering with the National Testing Network to seek out lateral hires from departments across the country to fill holes left by an increased number of retirements in recent months.

“That’s why we are seeing a record number leaving this year — a majority are leaving because of retirement,” he pointed out, stressing the need to have the next round officers hired into the department “able to go out and deploy and do the job.”

“Obviously, lateral applicants are the quickest way,” he said.

Anyone interested in applying for a job with the Seattle Police Department can head to this link.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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