“Cities across the country face police officer attrition,” said Councilmember Herbold. “These hiring incentives will allow SPD to use funds already in its budget to compete for well-qualified officers and achieve our hiring goals. We know this alone will not be enough. Moving forward, our top priority must be lightening the load on officers and creating new, more effective ways of responding to calls that do not require an armed police response. We can’t keep asking officers to direct traffic and help people in mental health crises when we don’t have enough officers to investigate sexual assaults or respond to 911 calls. Being a first responder is a difficult job. We shouldn’t make it an impossible job.”
In May, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance sponsored by Councilmember Herbold authorizing $1.15 million from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget for police recruitment.
Today’s bill authorizes additional spending of $289,000 in hiring incentives from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget. The second half of the bonus would be paid after the one-year probationary period. Officers who leave the department within five years would need to return the bonus. The results of the partial study from the 2019 bonus program showed that 1 in 5 applicants cited the bonus as one reason they sought to work for the SPD. 20% more people applying matters when the Public Safety Civil Service Commission’s best estimate is that for every 12 applicants in 2021, we hired one police officer.
The bill also transfers $228,000 funds out of SPD to the Seattle Department of Human Resources for four positions to enhance recruiting, to administer tests, and to speed up the hiring process. It allows for funding for moving expenses, per the Council’s earlier legislation.
I appreciate collaborating with the Mayor’s Office, SPD, and Council in developing the bill.
For more information, including a chart detailing how these incentives and SPD salaries compare to other Washington jurisdictions (pg. 9), view this memo.