EXCLUSIVE: Over 100 officers left Seattle police force in 2023

“We're underpaid, we're without a contract, and there's still a strong activist class that wants to put cops in jail. That's the climate that we operate under on a daily basis."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Seattle Police has lost close to 100 officers in 2023, continuing an exodus that has seen 700 officers flee the department since 2019.

Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, “Since the 16th of December, … year to date separations, 94. We're predicting over 100 before the closeout of this year and I'm sure since the 16th, we've seen an uptick of those numbers.”

Solan added the recruitment of new officers has not been going well. “…whom they've hired in terms of the numbers has been 61, but those people need to get out of the academy, need to get through post academy training, and then go through field training ... to make sure that they're competent human beings to conduct public safety policing.”

“For our community, I would say almost half of those people don't make it out… we're faced with an overwhelming number of losses and we cannot find the numbers adequate enough to build up the catastrophic numbers we've seen lost since 2019.”

“That's a reality people really need to understand is that this will take decades to dig ourselves out of this hole.”

Several days ago, the Emerald City marked its 73rd homicide this year. Earlier this month, Seattle blew past the previous all-time high homicide record of 69 set in 1994.

The spike in homicides followed a massive departure of 600 police officers from the department since the City Council started defunding the police in 2020. The city has long been operating below the recommended safe police coverage for a city of its size.

Solan said regarding the recent election of a more moderate city council, “I'm just so thankful that the people that did vote in this past election for council city council. We've shifted to what would be a Seattle moderate person to be elected and that to me is heartwarming where we could possibly see a change in the talking points from our electeds from being anti-police, which drives good professional human beings to flee an anti-police climate that has been significantly real in the past four years in the city of Seattle to now possibly a more moderate, supportive public safety approach for police officers.”

According to a recent report from the department, though homicides and carjackings are up, officials claim overall crime is down. When asked if that was due to residents not reporting crimes Solan said, “100 percent. They know that police agencies are understaffed…you and I have talked about it ad nauseam. We've lost 700 police officers in the city of Seattle since 2019. We saw an explosion post-2020, the bulk of those numbers was probably the largest we've ever seen.”

“And with 600 officers, in three years, so it's an alarming trend, and it's not just localized to Seattle.” Referencing local reports from other cities claiming similar patterns, Solan continued, “It's a nationwide problem. It's a recruiting problem, too. And I think folks realize that when they call 911, there's a incredibly long response to meet their public safety need. And to your point, most of this stuff is insurance claims. And if they need a police report number, well, then they can go online and get a police report number, but for an immediate police response, they're going to be waiting a long time to get a uniformed officer because we've lost so many people.”

Referencing a recent interview Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diz did with local media during which he tried to spin the numbers, Solan stated, “… talking about violent crime is down, reported crime is down. Well, it's because people aren't calling 911. They know that they're going to be waiting a long time to get the police there. The bottom line is, We've lost a record number of lives in this city because we don't have enough cops and violence is out of control.”

“It doesn't take rocket science to drive around and look at the blight that is now plaguing our city in terms of the graffiti, the garbage, the overall urban decay, that is the most basic common sense approach from anybody walking the planet would notice that we've got a major problem.”

“I don't really respect people spinning the numbers for political purposes to provide cover for failed policies.”

Solan noted that officers are still working under an expired contract and that was having an effect on morale, recruitment and retention. “The interest of the union is to ratify (a new contract) and get a collective bargaining agreement with the police officers for a fair wage one that's competitive and one that's reasonable in terms of accountability and work-life balance.”

“We're trying to do that. But now we're over three years expired, working under an expired contract with 700 people gone. What we're facing right now is daunting, and we just need public support.”

Solan added, “We're underpaid, we're without a contract, and there's still a strong activist class that wants to put cops in jail. That's the climate that we operate under on a daily basis. The risk versus reward is not there anymore.”
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