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Seattle City Council approves police recruitment, retention plan

The plan, proposed by Mayor Bruce Harrell in July, is intended to reduce the impacts of more than 460 officers leaving the department in recent years.

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance that focuses on improving police recruitment and retention on Tuesday.

The plan, proposed by Mayor Bruce Harrell in July, is intended to reduce the impacts of more than 460 officers leaving the department over approximately two-and-a-half years.

Under the plan, hiring incentives of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers and $7,500 for new recruits will be made available. If hired, officers will also be reimbursed for fees, travel expenses and relocation costs.

The plan was approved 6-3, with council members Kshama Sawant, Tammy Morales, and Teresa Mosqueda opposed.

The Downtown Seattle Association released a statement shortly after the approval, stating that the plan is a "welcome acknowledgment that Seattle needs to rebuild its police department and take public safety seriously." 

"Downtown workers, residents, businesses and visitors deserve to feel safe and secure and enacting this plan is a fundamental step in the right direction," the statement continues. "In the meantime, city leaders must stay focused on addressing the immediate safety concerns of our city."

Under the plan, additional staff dedicated to recruitment will be hired. A new marketing plan will be developed as well. A redesign of systems and modernizing the application process is also part of the plan. 

Read the full plan here.

In a statement, an SPD spokesperson said the department applauded the passage of the recruitment plan. 

"After losing more than 400 officers over the past two years, it has become very clear SPD’s staffing crisis negatively impacts all people of Seattle, severely reducing the department’s ability to quickly respond to 911 calls and provide a level of public safety the community deserves," a spokesperson said. 

The statement went on to say the current staffing crisis continues to negatively impact SPD's remaining officers who are "routinely drafted into overtime and augmented shifts to simply cover the precincts' minimum staffing requirements." 

The department also called for a retention bonus for existing officers to "preserve the continued employment of the dedicated, loyal, and fully trained officers who remain in service to all people of Seattle."

One hundred and nine employees separated from SPD in the first six months of 2022 - about twice as much as anticipated, according to previous information from Council Central Staff.

The department estimated that implementing the measure and offering hiring incentives over the next three years will cost more than $5 million.

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