SEATTLE — A recent internal survey obtained by Crosscut.com depicts a "toxic culture" and "low morale" within the Seattle Police Department.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's office distributed the survey in March, and of the 76 officers, detectives and sergeants who responded, just 10 said they would refer friends or family to work for the department, Crosscut.com found.
A spokesperson from the mayor’s office said they will take the survey responses into account as they spend the next month testing and refining ideas to improve officer retention and increase recruitment.
"OPA is actively driving several initiatives intended to reduce unfounded complaints, re-empower supervisors, increase transparency in decision-making and improve officer morale. OPA also is active in making policy recommendations to ensure that officers are operating under clear guidelines” said Office of Police Accountability director Andrew Myerberg.
Retired Seattle Police Officer Rich O’Neal said it was "very valid that there are officers that feel very frustrated."
In his 38 years, he’s seen the department and the city change substantially.
Simply put, with more people in the city comes more crime and less officers.
The Seattle Police Department is also struggling with recruiting and keeping officers.
“The facts are that the officers... we have very few out there and they are working a lot of overtime trying to keep up, working emphasis shifts. After a while, you get burned out from working,” O’Neal said.
In the survey, officers faulted the Seattle City Council, the mayor and prosecutor's offices the media for making their job more difficult than it already is.
“All anyone needs to do is talk to an officer on the street walk through a prescient and talk to roll call and you’ll see that there are much more than just a hundred that feel very frustrated,” O’Neal said.
Back in March, Durkan approved an incentive to recruit new officers that included up to a $15,000 bonus for experienced officers to transfer from other departments.
O’Neal and the city agree this isn’t just a Seattle problem.
Many major cities are having a hard time holding onto officers. Qualified men and women are often taking jobs in neighboring departments.
Final recommendations on the next steps will be documented in a report early this fall.