Seattle City Council Member Lisa Herbold has suggested that personnel terminations in the Seattle Police Department should be made based on race, with white officers laid off first to spare the jobs of BIPOC officers.
Seattle City Council has voted to cut the funding of the Seattle Police Department by 50 percent. This as riots return to the city. The massive budget decrease would necessitate the firing of many SPD officers. SPD procedure would indicate that terminations would be based on seniority.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best released a statement noting that many of the affected officers would be minorities. SPD has spent years becoming one of the most progressive police departments in the county and has made great strides in recruiting more minorities to their ranks. This means that the most recent hires, who would be let go first under a "last in first out" policy are minority officers.
SPD was already facing a critical staffing shortage before the civil unrest and was operating below 60 percent capacity. Many officers have laterally transferred to other departments, retired or quit with over 2/3rds of officers in their exit interviews citing the Seattle City Council and other politicians as the reason for their departure.
The Seattle Police Department hired 108 officers in 2019, which was the highest number of officers hired in over a decade at the department. Of those 108 hires, 39 percent were people of color, the highest percentage of people of color hired in a single year in the department’s history.
According to KIRO7 news, the SPD released a breakdown of the ethnicity of the officers who would be laid off based upon seniority; 46 Asian, 47 Black, 56 Hispanic, 59 biracial, and 526 white officers.
Herbold's suggestion of firing officers based on race is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which states "It is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race or color in regard to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment."