Seattle police chief lays out plan for hitting ‘reset,’ but questions remain

Mar 23, 2022, 10:30 AM
seattle police, shootings, Twitter...
(File photo from the Seattle Police Department via Twitter)
(File photo from the Seattle Police Department via Twitter)

Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz presented the department’s Strategic Plan for 2022 to city council’s public safety committee on Tuesday, detailing goals for recruitment and retention, addressing rising rates of violent crime, and rising to meet calls for reform from the last two years.

SPD Chief Diaz: Could take years to solve police department’s staffing crisis

The plan was outlined in a 29-page document, presented by Diaz as part of an hour-long question and answer session with members of the committee. In it, he stressed his hope to have the Seattle Police Department “hit the reset button.”

“It lays a foundation for a compassionate and empathetic department that solves problems by creating innovative approaches to public safety,” he posited.

To that end, Diaz cited a goal to reorient the department toward “a relational policing framework,” focused on strengthening public safety “through real, meaningful relationships” with communities. His hope is to combine that approach with new incentives for hiring and retention, including a potential shift to four-day/10-hour shift work weeks to give officers three-day weekends.

Additionally, he cited a need to “continue to hire and build up the community service officer program,” comprised of officers trained to engage with civilians and “work on non-criminal calls navigating services.”

But as Councilmember Alex Pedersen pointed out, the plan is also short on specific details regarding how SPD plans to fully realize many of these goals.

As city grapples with public safety crisis, Seattle mayor targets ‘sustainable change’

“The Strategic Plan is only 29 pages,” he noted. “It’s more of a high-level visionary document rather than an implementation plan with details on how to reduce crime.”

A larger focus on unarmed crisis response was emphasized by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who pointed to how “officers in Seattle and across the country say they cannot be mental health providers, they cannot be housing connectors, they cannot be crisis management responders when they are not social workers.”

As it relates to SPD’s recent struggles in retaining officers, she further described how the city has “done recruitment bonuses in the past, but what we haven’t seen is a change in retention strategies.”

“I feel like the conversation the council and the larger public is having around how we offload some of these jobs that are not necessary for officers to respond to will be a very important element of retention strategy,” she added.

Read the full Strategic Plan for 2022 at this link.

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Seattle police chief lays out plan for hitting ‘reset,’ but questions remain