A report released by the Seattle City mayor’s office on Friday has revealed that over 118 officers have left the city in 2020, a massive spike compared to years previous.
Most of those “separations” have occurred in the summer months of the George Floyd protests and riots that have overtaken Seattle streets on a regular basis.
September marks the sharpest increase: 39 officers left Seattle last month. Typically, September sees between 5 to 7 officers leave the department.
According to Jason Rantz’s report on the exodus:
May: 10 officers separated from the department
October: 8 (mind you, we are only halfway through the month)
The city’s report warns that at these rates, if the city’s current hiring freeze continues through 2021, their numbers could drop to below 1200 officers, staffing levels not seen since 1990 when the Seattle population was 44% less than what it is now.
“If the SPD is not allowed to replace the officers lost this year,” said Chief Adrian Diaz, “I will have to consider significant reductions in our service model, potentially impacting property crime investigations, harbor patrol, and some types of 911 responses.”
The Jason Rantz Show reported that 911 response times for dangerous, in-progress crimes have already reached up to 9 minutes in the North Precinct over the summer.
“It’s really quite striking because just a year ago there was a commitment to increase the number of officers,” said the Director of the Crime and Research Center at Seattle University, Dr. Jacqueline Helfgott.
Dr. Helfott has been tracking public perception of crime and the SPD.
“We have five years of data that show the lack of police capacity has been in the top two public safety concerns,” she said. “People are wanting a large police force.”
In a written statement to Komo News, Mayor Jenny Durkan said, “We are losing an unprecedented number of officers, which makes it even more critical that we recruit and retain officers committed to reform and community policing that reflect the diversity and values of our city.”
It is not clear if this report includes in their numbers the 70-100 officers that the Seattle City Council voted to layoff in their “reimagining” of the police force in the wake of the George Floyd protests.