A $2 million plan has been revealed to recruit more police officer in Seattle.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the plan on Wednesday, July 13.
It features incentives like recruitment premiums, reimbursement of moving expenses and potential tuition support.
The city has lost more than 400 officers since 2019, and has received massive criticism for incidents like the George Flloyd murder.
Harrell’s plan includes a million dollars of expenses already approved by City Council for recruitment and hiring bonuses.
The money comes from savings in unspent officer salaries.
He said: “We want the right numbers of officers and the right kind of officers.”
“It crosses racial lines, it crosses socioeconomic lines that people want to feel safe, and they have a right to feel safe.”
The Seattle Police Service still has 372 police officers out of an approved force of over 1,300.
This affected emergency response times, caused the department to stop responding to low-priority calls and forced officers to work overtime, resulting in reduced morale.
The present officer count is the lowest in Seattle in 30 years, all while Seattle’s population has risen sharply.
About 40 percent of the department’s detectives have had to handle patrol duties, severely cutting the number available to investigate serious crimes.
Harrell wants to provide signing welfare of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers from other police departments and up to $7,500 for new officers — amounts that would make Seattle level with other cities trying to hire and retain police, he said.
He requested reimbursement of candidates’ fees, travel and relocation expenses, and said he wanted a study done and determine if it is possible to pay tuition for college students who make a commitment to work for the department for at least five years.
The plan also calls for a renewed focus on attracting officer candidates from Seattle’s minority communities and expanding career opportunities for current officers.
The city is in the process of negotiating a contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild, and Harrell suggested retention bonuses or other economic incentives would likely be included in these negotiations.
Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz said the department will need to keep the officers it has and add 500 over the next five years. So far this year, though, 109 have left, while fewer than three dozen. Half of the new hires this year are people of color, Diaz said.