Rantz: Seattle Police Department ‘screwed’ as ‘catastrophic’ losses continue

Sep 11, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 2:05 pm

Seattle Police on scene (Flickr)...

Seattle Police on scene (Flickr)


As the city of Seattle experiences historically high crime, its police department continues to dwindle and recruitment efforts continue to fail. One former King County Sheriff puts it bluntly: “we’re screwed.”

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) lost six officers in August, according to a police source, bringing the year’s total separations to 122 and nearly 500 since the city council opted to defund the police department in 2020. What’s more alarming is the 350 officers that will be eligible for retirement at the end of the year. If even a fraction leaves the department, Seattle may not have a fully functioning police department.

Union leadership warns the city is on the verge of an unimaginable public safety crisis.

Rantz: King County refuses to jail dangerous suspects, still blames COVID

A depleted police department

Seattle saw 11 homicides in August, the single deadliest month since 2008, according to SPD records. And the police chief warns the city may reach a 25-year-high homicide rate by the end of the year.

To Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) president officer Mike Solan, the crime surge is a result of a depleted police department.

“There’s been a mass exodus of policing. The profession itself is almost on its last breath. And what happens is that criminals fill the void when there’s no law enforcement,” Solan warned on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “And when you connect to funding, and then you connect the reform laws that were just absolutely catastrophic to our communities, This is the sad result. And who ends up paying the price? Our communities.”

Before the start of the department’s mass exodus in 2019, which was hastened in 2020, city leaders hoped for between 1,500 and 1,600 officers. Now, the city revised its numbers down to 1,400. But as of August 28, the SPD only had 877 deployable officers, according to SPOG.

“These are catastrophic losses,” Solan says.

Solan warns that he’s most “fearful of the 350 that are eligible to retire” and that “we’re very close” to a decimated SPD.

“We can’t even absorb another 20, 25. I mean, we’re already at or below minimum safe status levels every patrol shift. People are getting burned out with just augmenting for patrol watches, because there’s just so much work out there. And they’ve worked so much. They’re tired. And then they have all these special events, the stadiums, sporting events, concerts, just trying to contain the crowds, traffic, all this stuff. We’re trying to work through and manage post defunding. And it’s very difficult, but it’s going to take strong leadership on both sides to get something accomplished to protect the city from a complete disaster.”

Unfortunately, however, recruitment efforts are not yet delivering results.

SPD recruitment efforts are not working

According to an internal document obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the SPD has only recruited or re-hired 41 officers to date. SPOG projects that number will be 60 by the end of the year. Solan doesn’t know how the department will recover at this pace.

“We can barely get any recruits. It’s just, I don’t know. I don’t want to send a defeatist. I always try to be an optimist. But it’s not looking good,” he said.

Solan argues it will take a decade to get the department to the staffing it needs to police a city the size of Seattle. Other law enforcement experts contacted by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH concur.

“It’s going to take at least a decade, at a minimum, to get to the level of 1400 to 1500 people at a minimum,” Solan warns. “And that doesn’t bode well for the current officers that are here, in terms of having a safe environment to work in. And then I think, more importantly, it’s the community that we serve professionally on a daily basis. This crime surge is here, and it’s real, and it’s only going to get worse.”

The SPD is not the only department struggling with staffing

‘We’re screwed’

The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) is not fully staffed.

A spokesperson with the office confirmed it experienced 74 separations so far this year, leaving the department with just 634 deployable staff. It has 113 open deputy spots that are not being filled fast enough.

Former sheriff John Urqhart saw these problems coming.

“We’re screwed. How long do you think it’s going to take to hire the 500 officers that SPD wants when they can barely hire five a month?” Urqhart said to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “The sheriff’s office is down by 115. How long is it going to take to get them back up to some sort of decent staffing? You know, I hate to be pessimistic, but this is not going to go away. This is not going to go away.”

‘I don’t know how the city moves forward’

Seattle officers are currently working without a contract. While a fair contract won’t completely fix the staffing crisis, it’ll help keep more officers from separating.

“You know, we would like to settle something sooner rather than later because time is of the essence,” Solan says.

Solan says that SPOG leadership is meeting with Mayor Bruce Harrell’s team “more often than not,” which gives him hope. He says there’s no other option than to negotiate a new contract.

“[Signing a contract] would be retaining your current people, which would then entice laterals or new recruits to come in because you have a fair wage that was up to today’s standards. The other option is, don’t have anything and you lose… it would decimate this department. And I don’t know how the city moves forward.”

Close to a contract?

It appears negotiations are going well. And there’s a general sense from officers who have spoken to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the city is moving in a positive direction with the contract.

In leaked conversations exclusively obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Harrell said he expects to have a contract of substance by the end of the year. His administration, through his deputy mayor and niece Monisha Harrell, says it believes the SPD should be released from its federal consent decree.

“It is very clear that this is not a city that needs the consent decree. That the improvements that have been made The… that this department is a world-class department. And that the federal government knows it. All of our monitoring teams know it. And we’re just trying to cross the T’s and dot the I’s to make sure that we can get out of this so we can move beyond that phase,” Harrell said.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-7pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

Biden activists flyers...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Seattle activists plan march pushing Joe Biden to drop out of race

A group of grassroots activists in Seattle are planning a Monday march hoping to pressure Joe Biden to drop out of the presidential race.

20 hours ago

seattle officer auderer...

Jason Rantz

Seattle officer caught laughing after Kandula’s death has been fired

Seattle Police Department Office Dan Auderer has been fired by Interim Chief Sue Rahr.

2 days ago

Photo: Government watchdog Accountable.US launches its "Expose Project 2025" campaign on the street...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Will Project 2025 destroy Seattle? The truth may shock you

Progressives are sounding the alarms over Project 2025, but will it destroy Seattle? It won't be pretty -- if you're a progressive.

3 days ago

A closeup of Annette and her facial injuries from a recent carjacking superimposed over a photo of ...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Homeless man brutally beat and carjacked Tacoma woman, victim says

An 18-year-old homeless man, with a record, is accused of a brutal carjacking and assault of an innocent woman in Tacoma.

4 days ago

Trump assassination attempt...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Mukilteo Council member Trump’s ‘rhetoric caused one of his supporters to be killed’

Mukilteo council president Louis Harris said he has "no sympathy" for Donald Trump as he blames rhetoric for the assassination attempt.

5 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Se...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Aberdeen Mayor stands by claim that Donald Trump assassination attempt possibly staged

Douglas Orr, the mayor of Aberdeen, Washington, claims that the assassination attempt against Donald Trump may have been staged.

6 days ago

Rantz: Seattle Police Department ‘screwed’ as ‘catastrophic’ losses continue