Seattle passes contract with SPD amid concerns over lack of public comment

May 15, 2024, 6:00 AM

police contract...

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department)

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department)

The Seattle City Council passed a long-negotiated contract with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) 8-1 on Tuesday. The contract makes SPD one of the highest-paid police forces in the region with a 23% retroactive raise. The 23% raise is made up of a 1.3% raise for 2021, a 6.4% raise for 2022 and a 15.3% raise for 2023 as back pay.

“The new police officer contract is a needed step forward to advance our vision for a city where everyone, in every neighborhood, is safe and feels secure,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said after the contract was signed into effect. “Seattle is a world-class city, and the updated wages and terms in this agreement reflect a commitment to building, recruiting and retaining the world-class police service our community deserves.”

However, Seattle City Council member Tammy Morales advocated for her colleagues to delay the vote. Morales stated she wanted a public hearing regarding the potential contract so residents could voice their thoughts and concerns.

“We haven’t had a single public hearing on this contract and this is absolutely not something that should be rushed,” Morales said.

More on Seattle police: What Seattle police officers are saying during exit interviews

The last Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) contract, approved in 2018, gave officers a 17% raise and required the city to spend $65 million in back pay, according to multiple media outlets.

PubliCola, which bills itself as “Seattle’s reader-supported source for deeply sourced in-depth coverage of local, state, and regional politics and policy,” published a PDF of the contract earlier this month before the union removed it from public view.

SPOG represents approximately 900 SPD officers. The president of SPOG, Mike Solan, expressed his elation after Seattle’s City Council voted to approve a new three-year contract agreement.

“It is emblematic of good governing. Moderate politics and common sense, finally coming back. I’m very, very appreciative of Mayor Harrell and (Council) President Nelson’s leadership in this process,” Solan stated. “We should be No. 1 (in pay) because it’s a difficult city to work in, but it’s a rewarding profession.”

“Our focus throughout negotiations has been on the ultimate goal of creating an excellent police service and a safe Seattle, rooted in a commitment to accountability, operational improvements and increasing the recruitment and retention of good officers through fair wages and working conditions,” the City of Seattle said in a statement to KIRO Newsradio.

However, critics of the contract believe the city will get no meaningful accountability requirements. Police accountability has been a focal point of contention between the guild and city officials. SPOG has faced criticism from police reform advocates, who claim the union exerts too much influence over officer accountability and discipline procedures.

Just when a tentative agreement was put in place for a new contract, the Seattle Community Police Commission demanded further transparency about negotiations and for the public to be able to see the contract and weigh in on it, a sentiment Morales agreed with.

More on Seattle Police’s pending contract: Seattle Police Officers’ Guild reaches tentative contract agreement with city

“The city needs to follow through on its prior commitments to the community: That barriers to police accountability can be adequately addressed within the contracts,” the commission wrote, according to KING 5.

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has fallen to the lowest levels of staff since at least 1957, according to “The Jason Rantz Show” on AM 770 KTTH.

Contributing: Lisa Brooks, KIRO Newsradio

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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