Seattle Mayor Harrell commits to hiring 500 SPD officers by 2027
Jul 13, 2022, 2:14 PM | Updated: 2:31 pm
(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz unveiled their new recruitment strategy to address staffing shortages in Seattle Police Department Wednesday afternoon.
Officer staffing levels reached their lowest point seen in three decades this year, with over 400 officers departing SPD since 2019. The Seattle Police Officer Guild President Mike Solan told the Dori Monson Show that the department lost 12 officers only last week.
The city’s goal is to have 1450 officers trained and on the streets of the city by 2027, an increase of more than 500 officers over the next 5 years. This would bring the ratio of police to Seattle citizens to 1.9 officers to 1,000 residents ratio. This is much lower than in cities like New York which has a ratio of 4.2 per 1000 or Los Angeles which has a ratio of 2.4 per 1000.
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Their police recruitment and retention plan will be presented to the city council on Wednesday, with $2 million potentially going towards the hiring efforts.
Harrell says there would be bonuses for officers coming on board to SPD, with a maximum of $7,500 for recruits and $30,000 for lateral transfers. The mayor also said that more staff would be hired for recruitment.
That’s not to say the city is hiring just anyone though, Harrell clarifies, with the priority of hiring officers that “reflect Seattle’s values and diverse communities.”
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“The challenges of the past two years have renewed in many a spirit to serve others. The police profession is a service profession, and the Seattle Police Department plans to add hundreds of service-oriented, sworn officers over the next several years,” said SPD Interim Chief Adrian Diaz. “However, SPD won’t hire just anyone. Despite our current staffing crisis, this is not a numbers game. Our mission is simply to help people, so we will hire only the most compassionate, dedicated, and qualified employees.”
Along with the money going into bonuses for new staff, the plan includes money to increase marketing and recruiters to help facilitate new job applicants.
The City is currently engaging in collective bargaining negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers Guild, following an agreement with the Seattle Police Management Association that was unanimously passed by the City Council last month.
If the legislation for the recruitment plan that the mayor’s office sent to the City Council gets passed, these changes will get implemented throughout the remainder of the year and into next year.