Find Posts By Topic

Mayor Harrell Announces New Tentative Agreement to Support Recruitment and Retention of Police Officers, Boost Accountability, and Expand Civilian Diversification 

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell shared the details of the tentative agreement reached with rank-and-file Seattle police officers focusing on recruitment and retention, improved accountability, and civilianization toward a diversified safety response system. Mayor Harrell has submitted legislation to the City Council to approve the proposed agreement following its ratification earlier this month by members of the Seattle Police Officers Guild. 

“Our highest priority is a safe and healthy Seattle – and this tentative agreement is a shared commitment with our police officers to continue strengthening public safety,” said Mayor Harrell. “This agreement focuses on three key areas: improving police staffing and fair wages at a time when officer numbers are at a historic low; enhancing accountability measures to ensure allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and discipline is appropriate; and expanding civilian response options to build a diversified safety system and create new efficiencies. I look forward to continued collaboration with our officers as we seek to create a police service that reflects our communities and our values.” 

Key elements of the tentative agreement include: 

  • It increases wages 1.3% retroactive to 2021, 6.4% retroactive to 2022, and 15.3% retroactive to 2023 to strengthen the City’s ability to retain and recruit qualified police officers. These wage increases mean Seattle police officers will be among the most competitively paid in the state – a wage commensurate with the public safety needs and complexity of policing in the city.  
  • It requires an arbitrator in discipline appeals when misconduct is found to give deference to the discipline imposed by the Police Chief. 
  • It improves timelines applicable to investigations of alleged officer misconduct, including for allegations of criminal conduct, by tolling the 180-day timeline for criminal proceedings in Seattle and extending (up to 60 days) the 180-day timeline following a Force Review Board referral for Type 3 (most serious) use of force. 
  • It eliminates the currently required 5-day notice to officers of specific allegation(s) of misconduct, reducing an administrative burden that slows the investigation process. 
  • It revises grievance procedures to complete implementation of state law changes that regulate and improve the appointment of arbitrators, which eliminates “shopping” for arbitrators and establishes requirements for arbitrator qualifications. 
  • It increases the number of civilian investigators in the Office of Police Accountability by two, bringing the total number of civilians overseeing and investigating allegations of police misconduct to seven.
  • It significantly expands the City’s ability to use civilian resources to assist with public safety services, including but not limited to: responding to lost or missing property and found property events; requests for transportation; emergency food and shelter requests; property damage; noise complaints; delivering messages and performing mail runs; addressing landlord/tenant problems; support missing juveniles, runaways, and missing adult persons; wellness checks; and acting as hospital guards for low-level offenders. 
  • It allows for civilian review of automated traffic safety camera violations, including those related to traffic signals, rail crossings, speeding, traffic obstructions, blocking intersections or crosswalks, transit only lanes, and stopping or traveling in restricted lanes. 
  • It allows for expanded civilian assistance to detective units with administrative tasks, case file preparation, and crime analysis. 

The agreement is “partial” in that it only covers the first three years of a potential four-year contract. The wage increases are the first for Seattle officers in three years. Negotiations for 2024 are ongoing with the assistance of a mediator appointed by the Public Employment Relations Commission, which will allow the City to move forward with these important improvements to its accountability structure while continuing to pursue other significant items proposed by the City based on input from community partners and the federal judge overseeing the City’s Consent Decree with the Department of Justice. 

“Approving this contract is an important step in remediating the permissive public safety environment our city has endured for years,” said Councilmember Bob Kettle (District 7, Downtown to Magnolia) and the Council’s Public Safety Committee Chair. “There’s no way to address Seattleites concerns about their well-being and safety without fully staffing our police department – and recruiting the number of officers we need is impossible without paying them a competitive wage. This contract ensures that the City will be paying our officers a competitive wage within the state of Washington, particularly our three-county area, which is long overdue. I’m proud to say that this Council is committed to a fully funded, well-staffed police department as part of its public safety strategy. “ 

“This agreement helps us recruit the best officers in the nation. When an annual salary across Lake Washington is higher than ours, we can’t expect to recruit the number of officers we need to address our massive shortfall,” said Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6, Northwest Seattle). “Our Seattle Police Department is ahead of other local departments regarding policy, oversight by accountability agencies, and reform, yet still there is more work to do to increase accountability and civilianization of duties. These remain as outstanding issues in ongoing negotiations.”