Seattle mayor announces $2M police recruiting plan as SPD reaches 30-year low

Bruce Harrell, a candidate for Mayor of Seattle, takes part in a forum focused on arts and culture, Thursday, July 22, 2021 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle. The city’s mayoral primary election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 3. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times via G3 Box News) Dean Rutz/G3 Box News

Seattle mayor announces $2M police recruiting plan as SPD reaches 30-year low

Spencer Pauley | The Center Square

July 15, 09:40 AM July 15, 09:40 AM

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(The Center Square) – Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s $2 million plan for police recruitment and retention comes after over 400 officers have departed in the last two and a half years.

Harrell said the plan will be presented to the Seattle City Council with an “approximately $1 million price tag,” in addition to another $1 million the council already approved in May for Seattle Police Department retention and hiring incentives.

Elements of Harrell’s plan include offering hiring incentives of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers and $7,500 for new recruits; prioritizing recruitment of candidates who Harrell says reflect the city’s values; reimbursing applicant fees, travel expenses and relocation costs when hired; develop marketing plan that includes increasing advertising funding; modernizing application processes to accelerate hiring; and exploring ideas of new programs to support officer tuition assistance to “create a pipeline of potential recruits through local colleges and universities,” according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

“Officers have options, like anyone else. So we are competing and we want the finest officers here,” Harrell said at the press conference Wednesday.

According to Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, the department has lost over 400 officers to retirement and resignations. Diaz said the department is down 372 deployable officers.

“Our staffing levels currently do not allow us to ensure the high level of public safety the people of this city deserve,” Diaz said.

He later went into specifics that as of July 13, SPD has lost 109 officers this year, who Diaz says were a part of the department for over 30 years. They have hired 35 just at the end of this month.

As of May 2022, SPD has just 954 deployable officers, according to Harrell’s Recruitment and Retention plan. Diaz says SPD needs to hire at least 500 officers over the next five years.

If the department is able to staff up to 1,400 officers within five years, that slightly exceed the 1,315 officers the department had in 2017, a recent high water mark.

An important part of the hiring process for SPD is the diversity of new recruits. Diaz said that 50% of hired recruits in 2022 were Black, Indigenous and people of color. In 2021, 40% of hired officers were members of the BIPOC communities.

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