More than 200 police officers quit their job in a mass exodus of Seattle law enforcement officials, crippling the department to a historical low in deployable officers.
According to a report by Fox News, many of the officers cited the anti-police climate in the city that has been plagued by riots and protests.
Seattle PD Police Chief Adrian Diaz called the exodus a “staffing crisis,” citing 180 officers quit in 2020 and 66 so far in 2021.
“We are at record lows in the city right now. I have about 1,080 deployable officers. This is the lowest I’ve seen our department,” Diaz said.
Many of the leaving officers retired early, while some looked for jobs in other cities, and others went to pursue other careers altogether.
According to KING-TV, many of the officers blamed the City Council in their decision for leaving. The council is considering further budget cuts of $2.8-5.4 million following reductions that were made last year and were applauded by activists who were hungry for more.
A spokesperson for Mayor Jenny Durkan said, “Based on exit interviews, we know the Council’s threats of continued layoffs or cuts are having a direct impact on decisions to leave the department. Mayor Durkan continues to caution City Council against making additional one-time cuts without addressing hiring and retention of officers, especially diverse officers, to respond to the highest priority calls,” the statement said.
Diaz, who mentioned that the department is hiring more community service and “crime prevention” officers to respond to non-criminal calls, believes that the retention of front-line officers remains in jeopardy.
“I’m hoping that it starts to level off,” he said. “I do see that this year we could have a significant amount of people leaving.”
According to Councilmember Lisa Herbold, hiring non-sworn employees for “crime prevention” purposes should not impact the amount of sworn officers the SPD can hire.
“The reductions being considered are from salary savings from officers leaving and do not reduce the number of officers SPD can hire,” she said.