KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle Police lost 96 more officers in 2023, over 600 since defund

Jan 8, 2024, 5:55 PM

seattle police staffing...

SPD arresting a man off Eastlake Ave. (Photo: The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo: The Jason Rantz Show)

The Seattle Police Department had another disastrous year for staffing, losing roughly 610 officers since the defund movement took hold in 2020.

Another eight officers separated from the department in December. This brings the 2023 total separations to 96, according to the city. A separation is an all-encompassing number, which includes resignations, and retirements. Concurrently, hiring has not kept up with demand. December saw only five new hires, bringing the year-end total to just 61.

The final numbers help reflect the crime reality in Seattle.

In 2023, the city experienced its all-time highest number of homicides at 73, beating the previous record of 69 in 1994. The homicide number is likely to be revised down to 72 as the state does not consider two lives taken when a pregnant mother is murdered. But that case shook the community, changing the trajectory of the council races.

Cordell Goosby, 30, has been charged in the murder of Eina Kwon as she and her husband sat in their car while waiting at a red light in Belltown. The June 13 murder claimed the life of Eina’s unborn child. She was 32 weeks pregnant at the time. Her husband, Evan, survived with a gunshot wound to the arm.

More from Rantz: After Seattle’s deadliest year, will Democrats admit failure?

Mayor Harrell’s staffing plan that wasn’t

Despite homicides hitting an all-time high, Mayor Bruce Harrell was slow to implement his police recruitment and retention plan, announced in July 2022. A year later, of the 38 programs or initiatives Harrell said his administration would tackle by the end of 2022, roughly 70% either haven’t been completed or even started. Some of the ideas didn’t appear to ever be vetted with the SPD or the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), even though Harrell said the plan was developed with officers. Some initiatives have been deemed implausible, with no city announcements explaining the failures. Other aspects of the plan, if accomplished, haven’t even been publicized to the officers who were meant to benefit.

Possibly standing in the way of a robust staffing effort was a demand that Seattle Police show fewer white men, including veterans, in recruitment materials.

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,” exclusively obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, 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 speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. But that effort did not pay off. Over half of the new hires in 2023 are white and all but a handful are male.

The mayor’s office did not respond to an email request asking for an update on the recruitment and retention plan.

Hope for 2024

With a newly-elected council, led by council president Sara Nelson, 2024 at least looks to be promising for police. The Seattle Police Officers Guild is in the middle of contract negotiations.

Nelson has consistently called for better treatment of police, and the newly elected council members have all indicated support for higher staffing. Freshman councilmember Bob Kettle has asked police officers thinking about leaving to give the council a year to help improve the relationship.

“And for me personally, I look forward to the reset of the council,” Kettle told KIRO Newsradio after winning his race. “I think it’s needed, particularly in the area of public safety. And this will allow us to have a reset with SPD, with the men and women in the police department and also with the guild as well. That’s needed because we weren’t going to move forward with the current city council. And I think, with a reset, we can have fresh eyes, fresh approach.”

Kettle defeated incumbent Andrew Lewis, a supporter of the defund movement.

More from Rantz: WA State Patrol gave I-5 Seattle to activists for protest

Anti-cop councilmember on an island

Socialist councilmember Tammy Morales is staunchly against supporting a police budget or staffing plan. But she may not have any allies on the council.

Second-term councilmember Dan Strauss abandoned his support for defunding when he ran for re-election in a tighter-than-expected race, due to the city’s crime crisis he helped create. Even if there’s a repeat of his first election, where he vowed support for police before supporting a 50% budget reduction, the council has more members that support the police than don’t.

There is also an open seat on the council with the departure of Teresa Mosqueda, who brings her toxic brand of anti-police vitriol to the King County Council. She previously defended a man who threatened to murder cops, claiming it was “justified.” It seems likely the council’s choice for the vacated seat will be supportive of cops.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: Seattle Police lost 96 more officers in 2023, over 600 since defund