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Friday, September 24, 2021

Mayor Durkan Proposes Comprehensive Budget Plan To Address SPD Hiring, Reduce Gun Violence, And Invest In Alternatives

Following Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s and Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz recent announcements on gun violence and alternatives to policing, Mayor Durkan is transmitting an ordinance to City Council that allows SPD and other city departments to move forward a series of broadly supported initiatives to comprehensively address the public safety challenges facing our community. Without requesting any additional spending, this bill asks Council to lift its $7.5 million of current restrictions on SPD’s 2021 budget. The legislation also reinstates the 2019 Council approved hiring incentive of $15,000 for laterals and $7,500 for new recruits in order to recruit experienced officers to help meet 2021 hiring goals, understanding that more than 250 officers have left the department in 2020 and 2021.

“In recent weeks, we’ve announced a meaningful path forward to reimagine policing, expand and create new alternatives for 911 response and invest more than $12 million to community led solutions to prevent violence, but Chief Diaz needs budget approval to move closer to our 2021 hiring and retention goals for sworn officers and ensure an appropriate 911 response,” said Mayor Durkan. “We don’t need to rehash the budget debates of last year on defunding, cuts, and out of order layoffs but Chief Diaz needs to act to address the current real hiring and staffing issues while we continue to advance alternatives that are critical to reimagining policing. Without adding any new money to SPD, City Council can immediately lift its restrictions on the Seattle Police Department budget by supporting this comprehensive budget plan.”

“Departments across the region and the country are competing for a limited pool of exceptional individuals committed to true relational policing and public service,” Chief Adrian Diaz said. “As we work to address the historic staffing crisis the department is facing – we need to do all we can to be competitive with other police departments and other local employers. I believe this is a strong show of support from the City that we know we need more of the diverse, talented and dedicated officers who make up this department.”

Last week, Mayor Durkan and Chief Diaz announced $10.4 million towards resources for violence prevention, $2 million for the King County Regional Peacekeepers Collective pilot program to address the steep rise in gun violence using a public health approach, and new alternatives to sworn officers including the expansion of civilian Community Service Officers and a new specialized triage response.

On July 23, 2021 SPD sent a $15 million plan using SPD’s allocated 2021 budget. By lifting the restrictions imposed by City Council, the City could create significant alternatives to 911 response and addressing gun violence including:

  • Additional Community Service Officer Unit in addition to hiring of six new CSOs
  • CSCC dispatch protocol
  • Regional Peacekeepers Collective
  • Specialized triage response
  • New civilians at SPD including two North Seattle crime prevention coordinators, public disclosure officers, a Bias Crimes Coordinator, and a CID Public Safety Liaison

To address ongoing hiring and retention of officers at the Seattle Police Department, SPD and Mayor Durkan are proposing a series of wellness steps, incentives and hiring bonuses. This builds off the work previously done to examine retention and recruitment, including the addition of precinct based mental health professionals for officers.

 In addition, there are a series of spending that is already ongoing or expected in 2021:

  • Paid parental leave  
  • Separation pay and deferred compensation   
  • Event overtime including for Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners and Kraken  
  • Technology upgrades including Early Intervention System and data analytics platform   
  • Additional compensation for city employees who have worked on site throughout the pandemic  
  • Contracting for additional civilian help to do background checks to speed up hiring

Mayor Durkan and Chief Diaz urge the Council to refer and vote on this legislation as soon as possible to authorize spending and enable these investments and strategies to move forward.

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