Resignations, retirements rock Seattle police force: ‘We’re losing good people’

Between retirements, transfers, and resignations, more than 100 Seattle police officers have left the force this year — and that number is expected to surpass 200 by the end of 2020.

Thus far, at least 118 now-former Seattle officers have stepped down or transferred, including some new recruits, the Police Tribune reports, as the Washington city continues to grapple with rising calls to defund the police.

Jason Rantz, a radio host for MyNorthwest’s KTTH, revealed Friday that “[i]n September alone, 39 officers left the force.” It’s shocking, considering “the typical number for that month is between 5 and 7,” Rantz noted.

“Your 911 call for help will go unanswered”

According to the Police Tribune, Rantz reported that the Seattle Police Department currently has around 1,200 officers on payroll, but those numbers don’t include those on administrative or sick leave. The number of officers taking such leaves of absence is also said to be higher than normal.

Meanwhile, more current officers are seeking transfers to neighboring police departments, sources told Rantz.

“With just about 1,200 officers in service, Seattle is staffed at lower levels than they were in 1990,” the radio host reported Friday. “The population has increased by 44% since then.”

The officer shortages are causing rising wait times for emergency response teams, Rantz reports, with current 911 response times sitting around nine minutes.

It’s a figure that Seattle Police Officer Guild president Mike Solan called “significant.”

“Your 911 call for help will go unanswered for a significant amount of time,” he told Rantz, according to the Police Tribune.

“We’re losing good people”

According to the Tribune, city council budget cuts and a mayoral hiring freeze for police would have seen the Seattle Police Department’s numbers dwindle to about 1,000, but with many officers leaving, the force may get there without having to lay anyone off.

For former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, it’s a heartbreaking fact. “We’re losing good people, and we know it’s because they feel like they aren’t supported by public officials,” Best said just weeks before her departure in August, according to the Tribune.

And Best is right: these kinds of cuts are not sustainable in Seattle or anywhere else in the country. Unfortunately, it seems like Democrats are going to have to learn that the hard way.

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