A significant amount of the police force in Seattle was deterred from remaining on duty since last year due to policy changes relating to the recent push of the anti-police movement, racial injustice protests, and riots.
On Tuesday, April 27, Police Chief Adrian Diaz admitted that the force at present had the smallest number of deployable officers he had ever seen, with roughly 180 sworn SPD officers submitted their resignation last year plus 66 more in 2021 by far.
The reasons for the mass quitting, which resulted in the “staffing crisis,” in Diaz’s words, was the hostile culture towards the police in Seattle, the City Council’s funding cuts, and dissatisfaction with the department’s leadership.
“We are at record lows in the city right now. I have about 1,080 deployable officers. This is the lowest I’ve seen our department,” Diaz told KING-TV.
The outlet added that when the SPD officers quit, it was an early retirement to some of them, whereas others moved to take police positions outside of Seattle or went on to other professions.
In coping with being understaffed, the department is looking to recruit community service and crime prevention officers to answer non-criminal calls. Still, Diaz was afraid that the solution would not be sufficient to compensate for a shortage of front-line officers.
The key reason for SPD police to quit their job was mainly “due to ongoing budget uncertainty,” Fox News cited a spokesperson for Mayor Jenny Durkan as saying.
Last year, the City Council adopted the defund-the-police movement that activists of racial equity had been promoting with accusations that the police system executes different treatments with people of color and removed nearly 20% of budget fund from the department.
This year, in late February, the Council announced that it was considering to keep on defunding the police force, with an amount of $5.4 million to be removed.
“Based on exit interviews, we know the Council’s threats of continued layoffs or cuts are having a direct impact on decisions to leave the department,” Durkan’s office stated.