Rantz: Mayor’s office demanded fewer white men, military in Seattle police recruitment

Jul 31, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: Aug 1, 2023, 9:57 am

Seattle Police Recruitment...

(Seattle TV)

(Seattle TV)

After taking over recruitment efforts for the Seattle Police Department (SPD), Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office demanded the department show fewer white men and “military bearing” in recruitment materials, according to a memo exclusively obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. The document was seemingly destroyed and the Mayor’s office did not initially turn it over through a public disclosure request, as required by law.

Ben Dalgetty, a Digital Strategy Lead from the Mayor’s office, took control of SPD marketing efforts. In a March 2023 memo to SPD human resources staff titled “SPD Marketing More and Less,” Dalgetty asked for “less” images and videos of “officers who are white, male,” and “officers with military bearing.” In their place, Dalgetty asked for more “officers of color,” “officers of different genders,” and “officers who are younger.”

The memo was part of a larger effort to hire fewer white men, according to a source, and it may be illegal.

‘You put this in writing?’

The memo caused a stir and the demand was seen by some at the SPD as discriminatory.

“I thought, ‘Are you kidding me? You put this in writing?'” one source inside the department tells The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH on the condition of anonymity. “It shows not only a lack of respect for officers, but a lack of respect for the military. They have no understanding of someone willing to put their lives on the line for their fellow man. They don’t have respect.”

The source said the intent of the mayor’s recruitment team was to hire fewer white officers and military veterans. After learning that the memo raised significant concerns, Dalgetty edited the file of the memo, effectively destroying a record that the city was obliged to maintain for public disclosure.

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Mayor’s office looked for non-white officers

When Harrell announced his recruitment and retention plan in July 2022, vowing to hire 500 cops by 2027, he committed to a police department with “diverse racial and immigration backgrounds.” He called for a “new kind of officer.” This meant the recruitment strategy needed to evolve.

The intent, it turned out, appeared to mean hiring fewer white men and military veterans, which represent protected classes, at a time that the department is dangerously and desperately short of police officers. The department lost 61 officers through June 30, 2023 and only recruited 41. As exclusively reported by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, some 70% of recruitment (and retention) initiatives and programs the mayor promised to complete by 2020 are either incomplete or abandoned.

Still, the Mayor’s office focused some SPD marketing efforts on outlets meant to exclusively reach black, Hispanic, Asian Seattleites. There were no white people featured in any of the photos the city turned over as part of the marketing.

In March 2023, Dalgetty worked with SPD human resources staff to create marketing materials for an April recruitment initiative. They planned to advertise with the Seattle Medium and Urban Contemporary station KYIZ (both are promoted towards the African American community in King County), classic regional Mexican radio station El Rey, and the International Examiner, a newspaper focused on the Asian American community.

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Editing out the controversy

The memo offered “guidelines … for relative terms compared to previous SPD marketing efforts.” He said that he wanted to “shift the proportions of our photo/video collateral” away from featuring white male officers, and towards the younger officers of color with different genders.

He clarified to staff that the guidelines “doesn’t mean no officers who are white or male or only young officers of color,” but that’s how it was taken. The police source tells me it also revealed how little Dalgetty and his team understood about police recruiting.

“This was not their area of expertise and they didn’t understand the police department or what it took to recruit police officers,” the source explained.

After complaints from SPD, Dalgetty edited the memo several times.

In one edit, Dalgetty removed language asking for fewer images and video of white men. In another edit, he removed references to officers with military bearing. Finally, Dalgetty removed: “This doesn’t mean no officers who are white or male or only young officers of color, but guidelines to shift the proportions of our photo/video collateral to more of some things and less of others.”

(Memo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

Legality of memo

According to the police source, several within the SPD were livid with the memo. Their jobs were already hard enough and they were uncomfortable with race-based hiring. As maddening, one said, the “less” portion was completely unnecessary. But did it describe illegal discrimination?

Joshua Brittingham, a labor & employment attorney with Carney Badley Spellman, said the memo could haunt the city of Seattle should anyone make a legal claim of discrimination.

“The SPD Marketing More and Less memo focuses on images for marketing purposes. It does not appear on its face to contain rules for hiring or promotion. The narrow focus of the memo could potentially inoculate the SPD from legal liability, at least based solely on the creation and distribution of the memo,” Brittingham tells The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “That said, employment laws prohibit refusing to hire, terminating, or discriminating against any person in wages or in other terms or conditions of employment based on race and veteran/military status. In the event of such discrimination — for example, an officer demoted or fired because he was white or a veteran — the memo might be used as evidence to demonstrate illegal discriminatory intent.”

Police union weighs in

Officer Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), calls the memo unnecessarily divisive. He notes that “95% of what is listed in this recruiting document SPOG fully supports.”

“What I condemn and will forever continue to push back on is the verbiage within the recruitment document that calls for less of white male officers. Less of people in leadership positions, and less of humans with military backgrounds. This is flat-out discrimination. Period. It is an affront to decency, reasonableness and further divides our communities,” Solan wrote in a statement to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “When politics is intentionally inserted into the public safety policing conversation, we all lose. It is embarrassing, shameful, and detrimental to a healthy functioning society.”

The Seattle Police Department, via a spokesperson, did not deny the memo caused a stir for staff. Instead, the spokesperson said in a statement that the department is committed to hiring staff that represents “the full diversity of our city.”

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Memo was seemingly destroyed

It took the Mayor’s office months to supply the memo via a public disclosure request. In the initial disclosures, the original memo was not provided. Instead, the updated memo was supplied.

“After speaking with Ben [Dalgetty], my understanding is that the record you’ve referred to was shared as a ‘live’ OneDrive link and was not attached to an e-mail,” the public disclosure officer emailed on July 10, over three months after the initial request. OneDrive is a cloud-based service for online collaboration, editing, and storage. “As with OneDrive documents shared out for collaboration, edits were made to the ‘live’ OneDrive link that was still in draft form on March 22, 2023 and March 23, 2023. The only version that we have of that record is the version that has already been provided to you.”

It’s unclear if Dalgetty knew that OneDrive files track the history of edits made to a document. After The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH informed the public disclosure officer of the OneDrive history feature, the memo was belatedly turned over.

Staying silent

Though there’s no indication Dalgetty willfully withheld the document, a point the public information officer made in a statement to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, it doesn’t matter.

The memo edits weren’t properly saved to be turned over for a request that clarified, “The [Delgatty] emails should include all documents attached or linked to.” This incident begs the question: how often is the Mayor’s office withholding information (or not traditionally saving them) by using “live editing” on documents that they are legally obligated from maintaining for public records? If asking for “all documents” attached to emails isn’t interpreted as desiring all documents prior to being edited, what requests haven’t been properly fulfilled?

Dalgetty did not respond to a request for comment.

The Mayor’s office, via spokesperson Jamie Housen, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The mayor’s strategy, according to a source, is to ignore requests for comments as they wait to see if other outlets pick up a controversy. But given the allegations, it’s the reaction of police officers that they should pay attention to.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our CitiesSubscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Mayor’s office demanded fewer white men, military in Seattle police recruitment