Seattle City Council approves bill to accelerate police hiring

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Council President Sara Nelson (Position 9) and Councilmember Bob Kettle (District 7) to accelerate police hiring in Seattle.

“One of our most fundamental responsibilities as a city government is to provide public safety. Right now, we are losing too many officers to achieve that goal. This bill to streamline recruiting and hiring, working along other efforts, will give the Seattle Police Department the tools it needs to reverse that dangerous trend,” said Council President Nelson.

“This bill will help us attract the best police recruits in the country while maintaining our high hiring standards. It’s a good governance approach that better aligns our recruitment efforts and makes us more competitive in a highly competitive job market. To anyone who is interested in joining law enforcement and wants to spend their career in service of their community, let there be no doubt — Seattle welcomes you,” said Councilmember Kettle.

The Seattle Police Department continues to have difficulty recruiting and retaining officers, recording a net loss of 345 officers since 2020. It has become clear that the hiring process is part of the issue. In 2023, the department only hired 61 police officers despite receiving 1,948 applications. That’s a conversion rate of just three percent.

About the legislation

This legislation would address roadblocks in the recruitment and hiring process by:

  1. Creating a new Recruitment & Retention program in the Seattle Police Department to implement best practices and innovative new recruitment approaches. The program would be staffed by three FTEs transferred from the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR), led by a managerial position that would be accountable for results;
  2. Establishing as city policy that the exam for entry-level and lateral police officer positions be offered in a manner that supports flexibility and accessibility for exam-takers;
  3. Increasing candidate contacts and the frequency with which the Public Safety Civil Service Commission publishes its police officer eligibility registers; and
  4. Adding to SDHR a new Personnel Analyst Sr. position to enable personalized communication with candidates within 48 hours of applying to SPD and establishing a point of contact to support them throughout the hiring process.

To learn more, visit this link.