SPD Chief Diaz: Seattle’s next mayor ‘needs to support the police department’
As Seattle leaders continue to search for answers amid a troubling string of recent shootings, interim Seattle Police Department (SPD) Chief Adrian Diaz spoke to KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to address the many factors at play that have made that process difficult.
Over a 36-hour period, 10 people were shot in six separated unrelated incidents across the city, amid a year where gun violence across the region has risen to record highs. As for why that is, Diaz admits that at least for now, there isn’t one single solution.
“I wish I had a good answer because it would give us a lot more to focus on,” he noted.
Seattle’s struggles with gun violence are more about a combination of contributing factors, Chief Diaz describes, including an uptick in gang-related shootings, as well as fallout from months of isolation brought on by the pandemic.
“We know that COVID hit — a lot of people were locked up in their homes,” he said. “I think that people’s tensions are up, and I think that people’s emotional well-being has been affected.”
He also points to increases in shootings in homeless encampments, drive-by incidents, and “more random-type shootings than we’ve seen in years past.”
On a more systemic level, Diaz believes that lenience given to repeat violent offenders in Seattle looms large.
“I am concerned about how we have certain violent offenders released — some of the standards have been let up a little bit,” he said. “Having those people in custody is extremely important for the safety and well-being of everybody.”
Meanwhile, SPD’s own struggles with staffing have posed an additional challenge, with the department losing 250 officers over the last year and a half. That’s a trend Diaz says has slowed, having only lost “a couple to resignations in the last couple months.”
“We’re starting to see people stay with the department,” he said, while emphasizing the need to now turn SPD’s focus to bringing more officers on board, as well as bringing in a new mayor who will support those efforts.
“We need a mayor that will support the police department,” Diaz added.
Diaz next hopes to present new initiatives to city council to provide more hiring incentives to incoming officers. But in the meantime, he feels confident that the officers SPD currently has will stick around long-term.
“The officers that we have right now are here for the long haul,” he said.
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