Seattle, WA – A multitude of Seattle police officers who have left the department in recent months blamed local political leaders, low morale, rioting, and defunding efforts as their primary reasons for leaving the city’s police force.
At least 110 officers left SPD between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, with 40 of them leaving in the month of September alone, KIRO reported.
Significantly more are expected to follow suit over the course of the next two months, police sources told the news outlet.
SPD Chief Carmen Best, the city’s first black police chief, even announced her retirement in August after the city council unveiled its plan to get rid of up to 100 officers and to cut SPD members’ salaries, FOX News reported.
Chief Best said at the time that she had no qualms with the council cutting her pay, but that she would not stand idly by while they lowered the salaries of those on the front lines.
“That, for me – I’m done. Can’t do it,” she told FOX News. “It really is about the overarching lack of respect for the officers.”
Many officers candidly discussed their frustrations during their exit interviews, providing scathing reviews regarding what working for the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has been like in the midst of the current social and political climate, KOMO reported.
“I refuse to work for this socialist city council and their political agenda,” said a retiring sergeant who served the SPD for over two decades. “This agenda sacrifices the health and well-being of the officers and ultimately will destroy the fabric of this once fine city.”
A resigning East Precinct officer with between six and 10 years on the force described the current work environment as “hostile,” and said the precinct “is under civil unrest by a small group that is constantly committing multiple felonies and attempting to murder police officers,” KOMO reported.
A K9 officer with over 11 years of service said he doubts he would never return to work for the SPD again.
“You could pay me twice what you’re paying me now and I would not work for Seattle under this current political mayhem, Marxist collaborations and lack of government and police leadership,” the officer said, according to KOMO.
A 57-year-old SPD motorcycle officer with over 31 years on the force said that Seattle’s political scene is “not-supportive and [is], at times, hostile towards officers,” KIRO reported.
He said he and his fellow officers have experienced a “total lack of respect and support from the city council and the mayor.”
Another officer who spent more than 20 years with SPD said that he can “no longer recognize this department as the one I joined.”
Being denied the equipment necessary to protect themselves from fireworks, rocks, and other attacks from rioters was another factor that contributed to some officers’ deciding to turn in their badges, KIRO reported.
“City Council has made it clear they do not want a police department and (would) rather defund SPD,” another officer said during an exit interview, according to KOMO. “Morale is very low due to the climate and the stance of political leaders.”
One officer noted that the “City Council has made it apparent that maintaining adequate staffing to keep the city or the officer that work there [safe] is not a priority for them.”
According to the exit interviews, most of the SPD officers leaving the department were going to work for other law enforcement agencies where they believe they will have more support, KOMO reported.
Crimestoppers Law Enforcement Services Director Jim Fuda said his agency works closely with SPD, and that the officers he has spoken with have been struggling with a lack of support and a hostile work environment, KOMO reported.
“It’s an absolute joke and a travesty for the rest of the citizens here in this city, this once beautiful city,” Fuda said. “Our police department is there to protect all of us and because of the cutbacks and the retirements, who’s going to protect our public safety?”
He called the situation “ridiculous.”
“Just when you think it can’t get more inane, it does,” he added.
Members of the Seattle City Council denied allegations that they have anything to do with the mass police exodus from the city, KOMO reported.
“This is not a unique situation that Seattle is experiencing,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said dismissively during a city council meeting on Tuesday.
“If we want to decrease police violence – which is what all these protests have been about – we need to reduce contacts with police,” councilmember Tammy Morales added. “I’m not inclined to prioritize maintaining staffing levels that seem like arbitrary metrics.”
Councilmember Kshama Sawant agreed, and declared that slashing the SPD budget by 50 percent is the only way for the council to show protesters that they will comply with their demands to defund the city’s police force, KOMO reported.
“Reducing the funding and therefore the size of the police department would mean that the police would not have the resources to continue to overstaff and abuse black lives matter protests,” Sawant reasoned during the meeting.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also took no responsibility for the historic number of officers who have been leaving the department.
“I say to the ones that are [still] there – please stay,” Durkan said. “Seattle values you. I value you.”
“It starts with, you know, them knowing that their elected officials – the mayor and the city council – support them in their work, and that we will give them the resources they need to do the job in the way the community demands,” the mayor claimed.
“We know we still do need police, and we need those police to be engaged, to have high morale, and to be trained in the best tactics possible,” Durkan added.
Durkan’s proposed budget calls for 1,400 officers – a figure newly-appointed SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said would be the bare minimum needed to cover the workload, KOMO reported.
But after the latest round of resignations, there are less than 1,203 officers still working for SPD.