Dori: Seattle Police guild president calls slower response times a `crisis’ that local leaders ‘don’t grasp’

Jun 15, 2022, 3:24 PM | Updated: 8:36 pm

Photo by Noah Riffe...

Photo by Noah Riffe

At a time when the number of police officers on Seattle streets keeps dropping and crime is rising, response times to the most life-threatening cases citywide continue to climb, a new report by the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety and Human Resources Committee shows.

The result, Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) president Mike Solan told The Dori Monson Show, “is definitely scary – a crisis situation that I’m not quite certain our local politicians really grasp. . .” 

SPD response times increase among staffing shortages

Average police response times have ticked up each of the past three years in “priority 1” calls – those which demand the greatest urgency, according to the report. For 2022, these include: 

·         East: 9.52 minutes 

·         North: 11.30 minutes 

·         South: 10.89 minutes  

·         Southwest: 11.06 minutes 

·         West: 9.20 minutes 

It’s no coincidence, Dori told Wednesday listeners, that it comes when Seattle Police Department staff is at “historically low levels.” 

“The problem is there’s not enough cops,” Solan explained. “To me, it’s mind-blowing that politicians aren’t recognizing how serious this situation is.

“SPD is losing an average of 16 officers a month,” he continued. “Since January, we’ve lost 85 quality police officers. We’re expected to lose 30 in (this month of) June. We’re projecting 196 separated officers this year alone – on top of the 430 we’ve lost since the (2020) riots.” 

To date this year, 26 officers have been hired, Solan said. Projections expect a total of 57 new hires in all of 2022 – “so we’re down a net of 600 officers – more than half the department.” 

Currently, Solan told Dori, Seattle officers are working without a contract.  

“The way to stop this hemorrhaging is to incentivize,” he continued. “You’ve got to pay top dollar. Hours, wages and working conditions: ultimately, those three things are tied” to keeping existing officers on the job. 

“It’s incredibly sad that we’re in the position,” said Solan. “This agency was once progressive. . . Now, we are a shell of an organization and we’re losing cops every month.” 

Without a contract that shows police officers are “valued, things are only going to get worse – and that’s not being hyperbolic,” he added. 

Fortunately, Solan said, both sides in the police contract negotiations are “at the table, which to me is positive. How that conversation is going, I’m not going to comment, but we have a ray of hope.” 

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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