The Seattle Police department is attempting to recruit new officers to offset a massive exodus by overhauling how the department uses pronouns and updating policies on personal appearance. On Wednesday, the department announced that it had updated its policy regarding tattoos, hairstyles, jewelry, and gender language.
According to a statement from SPD, the department "had received feedback from officers, recruits, and potential candidates about our policies prohibiting beards, visible tattoos, and other employee appearance standards."
As a result, "SPD’s manual now includes clear standards allowing for some visible body art—so long as it is not obscene, offensive, or discriminatory in nature—and jewelry. The new policy also allows for beards, with exceptions in SWAT, Arson/Bomb Unit, and Harbor Patrol due to operational requirements."
The announcement continued, "The update also addresses issues of equity in the previous policy, revamping the standards to be gender-neutral, and clearly authorizing hairstyles such as afros, braids, locks, and twists."
The department last updated the employee appearance section of its manual in 2006.
Additionally, "The department believes these changes will increase equity in our recruitment efforts, and further SPD’s goal of hiring officers who reflect the community we serve."
In a separate update, "the department has also refreshed its 2019 policies related to officer interactions with gender-diverse individuals. SPD’s manual now includes guidance to officers regarding preferred names and pronouns–including theirs, zie, and zir pronouns–and how to navigate conflicts in government records between a person’s chosen name and their gendered legal name, or deadname."
Since the Seattle City Council voted to defund the department in 2020, approximately 500 officers left the force. The city remains well below safe staffing levels. Despite multiple efforts, the department has been unable to offset the losses with new recruits.
Following the defunding movement, crime skyrocketed, and the city is on track to beat last year’s record-high number of homicides. Rapes and assaults have also spiked. 911 response times have steadily climbed and many residents have reported being placed on hold.
Rather than change course, council members are once again trying to defund the police.
Seattle is facing a $220 million dollar budget shortfall this year due to overspending. As a temporary stop-gap Mayor Bruce Harrell has proposed a budget that temporarily cuts $11 million dollars from the department, funds that would have been used to fill hundreds of open staff positions.
However, anti-police and Antifa-supporting Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has added an amendment to the budget to make the cuts permanent.
Mosqueda typically votes in line with Marxist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the Seattle City Council member who led the charge to defund the police department and has recently requested police to protect her home in response to repeated scatological vandalism.
Over the past month, someone has been throwing human feces at Sawant's home and in response, the councilmember requested a "permanent patrol presence monitoring her place from 5 pm -10 pm every day," even though her constituents, along with the rest of the city, have difficulty getting the police to respond to more serious calls due to the defunding of the Seattle police.
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