Seattle, WA – Police data showed that 118 officers have left the Seattle Police Department this year, including some new recruits.
Jason Rantz reported on KTTH Thursday that Seattle police officers were transferring, resigning, and retiring from the department at a higher rate than ever before.
Seattle police promised to release the data on the increased number of separations from the department on Friday.
But Rantz had been requesting the publicly-available information since July and published it on Oct. 15.
Ironically, Seattle PD blamed the multiple delays on staffing shortages on its Public Disclosure Team that handles such requests, KTTH reported.
Rantz said he has requested this same data periodically for years but and has never had to wait to get it before, leading some to the conclusion that the city would prefer not to have residents know about the mass exodus of officers from Seattle at the same time violent crime is skyrocketing.
Seattle PD said it currently had 1,200 officers on the force, but that number doesn’t account for any of the officers who are out on sick leave or administrative leave, KTTH reported.
Sources told Rantz that officers were using their sick leave at higher than normal rates and said many were looking for lateral transfers to police agencies in other cities.
Officers worried that there could be more than 200 departures from the Seattle police before year’s end, according to KTTH.
Normally five-to-seven officers depart per month.
But so far this year, there were 10 separations in May, 10 in July, 14 in August, and a whopping 39 departures in September, KTTH reported.
Most of those leaving were patrol officers, meaning the already overburdened police department will take even longer to respond to 911 calls.
“Your 911 call for help will go unanswered for a significant amount of time,” Seattle Police Officer Guild President Mike Solan told Rantz during an interview on his radio show on KTTH.
Response times for dangerous, in-progress crimes in Seattle between July and September averaged a deplorable nine minutes.
Seattle PD currently has fewer officers than it had in 1990, KTTH reported.
The population of Seattle, however, has increased by 44 percent in those 30 years.
The number of officers was expected to drop closer to 1,000 as the city council’s budget cuts were implemented and the mayor’s hiring freeze took its toll, KTTH reported.
The last “historically large” exodus of Seattle police officers was in 2018, when 108 officers resigned during the entire year.
“There are lots of people walking out the door,” another officer told KTTH at the time. “This is a mass exodus. We’re losing people left and right. Why stick around when the City Council doesn’t appreciate you? [These officers are] fleeing the ‘Seattle mentality.’”
While Seattle’s population has grown exponentially over the past 40 years, the size of the city’s police force has stayed almost the same, the city’s police union told KCPQ.
“I have never seen the number of officers who are leaving and the way they are leaving,” then-Seattle Police Guild Vice President Rich O’Neill said at the time.
Then-Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best blamed the departures on a lack of support from city leadership at the time.
“We need them to stand up for the work that the officers…have been doing in this organization,” she said at the time. “We’re losing good people, and we know it’s because they feel like they aren’t supported by public officials.”
Dozens of exit interviews from officers who have left Seattle PD showed the devastating effect that the lack of support has had on their morale.
“Criminals are more empowered than people that protect the city,” one officer wrote.
The recent budget cuts associated with defunding the police amidst calls from anti-police activists in recent months have further destroyed officer morale leading to the new historic exodus, KTTH reported.