Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell released the following statement after City Council passed the Comprehensive Police Recruitment and Retention Plan:

“This is a positive step in the right direction as we seek to make Seattle a safe place for every neighbor and to rebuild and restore the Seattle Police Department in accordance with our highest values, priorities and aspirations. This challenge created over the years cannot be solved overnight, but this plan will help us move forward.

“The police are just one part of our plan to ensure public safety; however, they are a crucial element. Our police personnel crisis is limiting our deployment of officers, deteriorating emergency response times and impacting investigative work. By combining improved SPD staffing with community programs, economic development efforts, and environmental design and activation strategies, we can make long-term progress in creating safe neighborhoods for all Seattle residents.

“Similarly, hiring incentives are just one part of our recruitment plan – they demonstrate our urgency and determination to remain competitive with departments in our region. Additionally, we prioritize a diverse candidate pool, streamline the application process, hire recruiters, and seek training and career advancement opportunities for future officers. We are also focused on retaining current officers through a competitive economic package and a commitment to officer welfare and morale.

“Above all, the key to recruiting and retaining officers is the need to change the narrative in our city. Make Seattle a place where officers feel welcome and supported, where they know we appreciate and respect their good work, where they can believe in our mission to keep everyone safe, and where we recognize a shared commitment to policing constitutional, impartial and innovative.

“I am grateful for Council’s thoughtful legislative commitment to strengthen and adopt this plan. My administration is committed to quickly implementing our plan, hiring the necessary officers, and ensuring effective public safety for all communities.

In response to over 460 officer departures over the past two and a half years, elements of the plan include:

  • Expand the candidate pool by prioritizing recruitment of candidates who reflect Seattle’s diverse values ​​and communities and who are committed to public service, including people from diverse racial and immigration backgrounds, people with college educated and language skills beyond English, and people who enjoy living in Seattle;
  • Offer hiring incentives of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers and $7,500 for new hires, ensuring Seattle is fully competitive with neighboring jurisdictions;
  • Reimburse the application fees, travel expenses and relocation expenses of candidates when they are hired;
  • Hire additional staff dedicated to SPD recruitment, significantly increasing capacity, focus and expertise;
  • Develop a new innovative marketing plan and increase advertising funding to reach more potential candidates through modern and diversified methods;
  • Overhauling recruitment systems and modernizing application processes to speed up hiring, steps include for the first time allowing exchanges of online application documents, eliminating travel requirements for physical agility and oral jury interviews, and more;
  • Create a speaker recruitment bureau from respected community stakeholders and partner with regional businesses and community organizations to promote careers in public service in law enforcement;
  • Explore the development of new programs to support officer tuition assistance and create a pool of potential recruits at local colleges and universities;

With additional urgent and long-term steps detailed in the full plan here.