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Mayor Harrell Statement on Council Passage of the Comprehensive Police Recruitment and Retention Plan

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell released the following statement after the 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 rebuild and restore the Seattle Police Department in line with our highest values, priorities, and aspirations. This challenge created over years cannot be solved overnight, but this plan will help move us forward. 

“Police are but one piece of our plan to ensure public safety; however, they are a crucial element. Our police staffing crisis limits our deployment of officers, deteriorates emergency response times, and impacts investigative work. Combining improved SPD staffing with community-based programs, economic development efforts, and activation and environmental design strategies, we can make long-term progress creating safe neighborhoods for all the people of Seattle. 

“Similarly, hiring incentives are but one piece of our recruitment plan – they demonstrate our urgency and dedication to staying competitive with departments across our region. Further, we’re prioritizing a diverse candidate pool, simplifying the application process, hiring recruiters, and pursuing education and career advancement opportunities for future officers. We are also focused on retaining current officers through a competitive economic package and commitment to officer wellness and morale. 

“Above all else, the key to recruiting and retaining officers is the need to change the narrative in our city. To make Seattle a place where officers feel welcome and supported, where they know we value and respect their good work, where they can believe in our mission for safety for everyone, and where we acknowledge a shared commitment to constitutional, unbiased, innovative policing.  

“I’m grateful for the Council’s thoughtful legislative engagement to strengthen and pass this plan. My administration is committed to swiftly implementing our plan, hiring needed officers, and delivering effective public safety for all communities.” 

Responding to more than 460 officer departures over the last two-and-a-half years, elements of the plan include: 

  • Expanding the applicant pool by prioritizing recruitment of candidates who reflect Seattle’s values and diverse communities and are committed to public service, including people with diverse racial and immigration backgrounds, people with college educations and language skills beyond English, and people who value living in Seattle; 
  • Offering hiring incentives of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers and $7,500 for new recruits, ensuring Seattle is fully competitive with neighboring jurisdictions; 
  • Reimbursing candidates’ applicant fees, travel expenses, and relocation costs when hired; 
  • Hiring additional staff dedicated to SPD recruitment, greatly increasing capacity, focus, and expertise; 
  • Developing an innovative new marketing plan and increasing advertising funding to reach more potential candidates through modern and diverse methods; 
  • Redesigning recruitment systems and modernizing application processes to accelerate hiring, steps include for the first time allowing online application document exchanges, elimination of travel requirements for physical agility tests and oral board interviews, and more; 
  • Creating a recruiting speakers bureau of respected community stakeholders and partnering with regional businesses and community-based organizations to promote public service careers in law enforcement; 
  • Exploring development of new programs to support officer tuition assistance and to create a pipeline of potential recruits through local colleges and universities; 

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