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Seattle Police Department unveils plan for policing, public safety

On Tuesday, the Seattle Police Chief discussed his public safety plan for the future during a City Council committee meeting.

SEATTLE — It is a pivotal point in policing, according to Chief Adrian Diaz of the Seattle Police Department.

"The Seattle Police Department has hit the reset button," said Diaz.

SPD's Strategic Plan report says community relations were pushed to the brink after the summer of 2020.

"Since George Floyd was murdered, we have had massive change in our city in regard to policing," said Diaz.

Today, the department is dealing with a historic drop in staffing levels and a rise in violent crime. Chief Diaz says gun violence has almost doubled since last year, and property crimes are up too.

"We developed a heat map which shows where we are needed based on calls and where we are over present, where there is less call volume," said Brian Maxey, SPD's Chief Operating Officer.

Maxey says the department is taking a data-driven approach to see if some 911 calls can safely have an alternative response to determine what calls could be served by an unarmed responder.

SPD is also working on recruitment and retention.

Between 2020 and November 2021 more than 325 officers left, according to SPD. The report says the department is at the lowest deployable patrol staffing levels since the 1980's when Seattle's population was almost half of what it is today.

"Because we don't have as many specialty units is really kind of making every officer a generalist, so being able to be good at building relationships in the community, problem-solving, and then also being able to have the skillset to handle an active shooter situation," said Diaz.

One recruiting and retention tool the department is considering is 10-hour shifts four days a week with three days off. Diaz says SPD is still working out the details of that kind of schedule with the police union.

Moving forward, Diaz says he wants to rebuild the force and relationships within the community too.

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