Seattle Police Department staffing hits lowest levels since the 1950s

"We continue to lose more than we're gaining and Seattle is in serious trouble."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
The Seattle Police Department is still “seeing more separations than new hires” and is now at its lowest staffing levels since the 1950s. There is now the added concern that the people applying for the open positions are of a lower caliber than the officers the city has lost.

Seattle Police Officer Guild President Mike Solan told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, “We had 42 separations this year and we've only hired 20.”

The city is projecting a loss of over 90 officers by the end of 2024 and is only expecting to hire or rehire around 34. Though the departures began in 2019, the massive exodus came after the Seattle City Council began defunding the police following the riots that rocked the city in 2020.

Solan said the department has lost over 725 officers over the last five years and has just over 800 deployable officers. He added that the department should have over 2,000 officers for a city the size of Seattle, noting that Boston, which has a similar population to the Emerald City, has a much larger police force and a lot fewer issues on the streets. This number is the lowest number of officers the city has seen since the 1950s.

The lack of officers has led to spiking crime. Last year, Seattle broke its all-time high homicide record.

Solan also expressed concern that the new applicants the department has been attracting may not have “…the acumen to make split-second decisions as a police officer on a day-to-day basis,” noting that “more needs to be done to attract this profession to quality people.”

“We don't want to lower standards just to get a human in uniform as a police officer. That's going to be catastrophic for issues moving forward where decisions are not going to be that great in terms of use of force, critical thinking, judgment.”

Solan added, “You've got agencies looking to lower the standards just to pass people. So, a lot of this is nuanced, but I'm deeply concerned about the type of people that are being attracted to the job now.”

Last week, the department announced that it was accepting applications from DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, who, under the Obama administration, entered the US illegally as minors and were able to defer action on deportation and gain work authorization.

Solan said, that the staffing crisis “is the result of just horrific decisions at the political level based on ideology, and so now you've got an agency that's lost half of its people in four years and we continue to lose more than we're gaining and Seattle is in serious trouble."
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