The Post Millennial has obtained over 175 pages of exit interviews from more than one hundred Seattle Police Department officers stating their reasons for leaving the force. This following a record setting exodus of officers from the force of over 118 officers in 2020, 39 officers in September alone
The same comments, often expressing the same frustrations, can be seen repeatedly through the documents.
One retiring patrol sergeant who had been on the force for more than 20 years said, "I refuse to work for this socialist city council and their political agenda. This agenda sacrifices the health and well-being of the officers and ultimately will destroy the fabric of this once fine city."
Another officer wrote "An unwinnable battle with the City Council. It will be the downfall of the city of Seattle."
Another, on his way to a job with a neighboring police department, which was common among departing officers said: "The city's morals do not match my own."
When asked: "What factors had a negative effect on morale in the department?" one officer responded "The council wanting to defund us and gaining ground doing it. Rioters not being charged even when they assault officers."
Another patrol officer from the East Precinct, site of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest and ongoing riots, was resigning after more than six years of service and said they he was leaving the department because of a "Current hostile work environment. In a precinct that is under civil unrest by a small group that is constantly committing multiple felonies and attempting to murder peace officers."
In another exit interview, a patrol officer with more than 20 years on the job wrote they were leaving because they "no longer recognize this department as the one I joined."
That officer, and many and others, specifically called out the poor management and leadership. "The utter lack of supervision, accountability for incompetent, despicable, lazy officers who were really good at gas lighting other hard workers," one officer wrote, complaining about regular inequality of seeing rules enforced for some but not others.
Officers also complained about not having the proper equipment during protests to protect from rocks and fireworks, saying SPD was not providing resources for "us to do this job safely and did not care."
An officer who resigned in September wrote "If staff is cut, officers will be responding without adequate backup and it will either be unsafe for officers or unsafe for civilians who are waiting even longer for assistance."
In response to the revelations, Seattle Council Member Lisa Herbold said: "The officers who don't want to follow their Chief in those changes that he identifies as best for the department and best for the city might find more job satisfaction elsewhere."
A Seattle police officer interviewed by The Post Millennial said "So....to make sure I heard that correct... if officers don't feel safe working below proscribed safe staffing numbers, they should leave the dept?"
Herbold, ignoring the trend over several years of officers departures before the spike said that "one month's data is not a trend."
An exit interview question asked: "Would you like to work for SPD again in the future?" One canine officer, who's resigning after more than 11 years on the job, said, "I highly doubt it. You could pay me twice what you're paying me now and I would not work for Seattle under this current political mayhem, Marxist collaborations and lack of government and police leadership."
"Never," the sergeant replied on the written form when asked whether they'd ever return to work at SPD, adding they were in an unwinnable battle with the city council.
A 57-year-old motorcycle officer, after 31 years on the job, wrote that they didn't feel like risking their pension or health and wellbeing any longer. "City politics also is non-supportive and, at times, hostile toward officers."
Asked what they enjoyed least about their job at SPD, an officer stated, "The total lack of respect and support from the city council and the mayor."
A statement issued as a response from Mayor Jenny Durkan said: "We are losing an unprecedented number of officers, which makes it even more critical that we recruit and retain officers committed to reform and community policing that reflect the diversity and values of our city."
The majority of officers who are leaving for other law enforcement jobs wrote in their exit interview they feared losing their job with SPD due to the council's defunding efforts and felt department leadership is helpless to stop it. One said: "The people who run the department have to be politicians and work with people who hate us.''
On Monday, Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz was asked during a press conference about the exits from the department and said that many of those leaving for other departments had done so for security after the Seattle City Council's drastic defunding of over 100 officer positions and multiple units in the department this summer.
"…Because they thought maybe I wasn't going to have a job in two months or three months and so we did see quite a few leave in the month of September," Diaz said, pointing out that it is not an immediate process once an officer applies to move to another department and is accepted.
Some officers did have positive things to say but those interviews were dwarfed by the volume of negative interviews. Some cited age, or moving to part time positions, or family reasons to explain their departure, but even those with a positive experience often had comments and complaints that evidenced the lack of support from city leaders and their superiors. "Overall good experience," one exiting officer wrote, but expressed disappointment at allowing the Department of Justice to ruin the department, then when it was fixed, giving into politics.
According to the exit interviews, many of the SPD officers are leaving for departments like Everett, Des Moines, Kennewick and County Sheriff's Departments, places they said the feel like they will get more support. However, openings for officers are limited, and many officers are looking out of the area and state for employment options.