KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle Police staffing lowest since 1958 as 38 cops leave so far

Jun 19, 2024, 5:55 PM

Image: Seattle Police Department officers arrest a woman caught driving a stolen car full of stolen...

Seattle Police staffing has hit a terrifying low, with fewer officers in 2024 than in 1958. The population and crime have soared since then. (Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) lost 38 officers, including recruits, as of June 3, 2024. Conversely, they only hired or rehired 15 officers this year, leaving Seattle Police with its lowest staffing levels since 1958.

The total SPD separations come as seven more officers left the force in May. At the current rate, and considering nearly a third of the force is eligible for retirement, the city projects that it will lose 94 officers by the end of the year. The city only expects to hire or rehire 34 this year.

The total number of deployable officers can vary day to day because of injuries, planned extended time off, or maternity/paternity leave. But as of June 3, there were only 848 total deployable officers (not including recruits and students).

Compare the current stats to January 1, 1958, and the crisis is clear. According to a staffing document obtained by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, there were 918 deployable Seattle Police staff. There’s been a dramatic rise in population and crime since.

How is the city of Seattle addressing the police staffing crisis?

The mayor’s office said it’s stepping up recruitment efforts for SPD. But their strategy so far has not worked.

In a virtue signaling pivot, SPD is actively recruiting so-called DREAMERS — recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Status (DACA). Bipartisan legislation allowing DACA recipients to be hired for civil service jobs went into effect on June 6.

But DACA is still being challenged in court and a DACA recipient’s ability to carry a firearm is based on January 2024 guidance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the Biden administration. DACA could be declared unconstitutional and the guidance can change with a new administration.

Moreover, how many DACA recipients could possibly be interested in being a police officer? The general public has little interest as it is. This strategy won’t likely bring in many — if any — applicants.

Jason Rantz Exclusive: Former Seattle police Chief Adrian Diaz announces he’s gay

Crime is still out of control

There is an urgent need for police as the City of Seattle is trying to recover from last year’s historic high of 74 homicides.

At 21 homicides this year (plus two additional ones that happened in the city but are being investigated by Washington State Patrol), Seattle is trending lower than where it was in 2023 (ending June with 30 homicides). But there’s caution as the city deals with a surge in juvenile crime and summer months usually see a bump in violent crime.

But it’s not just violent crime plaguing the city. Businesses and car owners are hounded by frequent break-ins, theft and vandalism as the city struggles to reach pre-2020 criminal justice reform numbers. The crisis has deteriorated to the point where small businesses are spending big dollars to hire private security since they know there are not enough police to protect their neighborhoods.

Much of the property crime isn’t even reported — a point conceded by former Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz –which skews data that is cherry-picked to downplay the crisis for political purposes. As activists and some politicians claim, Seattle is thriving, an alarming number of businesses continue to shut down, and downtown commercial real estate is being sold on the cheap.

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 staffing lowest since 1958 as 38 cops leave so far