(The Center Square) — Pending budget cuts will cost the Seattle Police Department 100 officers, but many are already leaving on their own, new data from the Seattle mayor’s office shows.
According to data released on Friday by Mayor Jenny Durkan's office, the city has seen 53 SPD officers turn in their badges this year.
Around five to seven officers on average leave the SPD in September, the city reported. But this past September saw record numbers of voluntary departures.
September alone saw the departure of 36 sworn officers and three officers in training, or around 3% of the SPD’s total police force. Another 14 officers went on extended leave.
More than 69% of those officers were white and most had served with the SPD for more than 25 years, according to the data.
The SPD’s number of officers in service is now 1,203, down from 1,247 a month ago. The number of sworn officers and new recruits dropped from 1,406 to 1,367.
The data released Friday does not appear to include the anticipated layoffs of around 100 officers per the Seattle City Council’s 1% budget cuts to the SPD for the rest of the year.
Durkan unsuccessfully vetoed the City Council’s cuts to the SPD in August while pushing such counterproposals as placing the SPD’s 9/11 call center to civilian control in lieu of officer layoffs.
The mayor expressed concern on Friday regarding so many SPD departures.
“We are losing an unprecedented number of officers, which makes it even more critical that we recruit and retain officers committed to reform and community policing that reflect the diversity and values of our city,” Durkan said in a statement.
Interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz, who has already bolstered up the department’s 9/11 response unit, warned that so many departures could put public safety on the line.
"If the SPD is not allowed to replace the officers lost this year, I will have to consider significant reductions in our service model, potentially impacting property crime investigations, harbor patrol, and some types of 911 responses,” Diaz said in a statement. “I remain hopeful we can have a collaborative process for determining the future of community safety in Seattle.”
Recent crime statistics maintained by the SPD shows that property crime has risen considerably in the city since protests against police brutality and related civil unrest began this summer.
However, most reports of property crime did not stem from protest hotspots like the former Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone.
The SPD began the year with 1,433 SPD recruits, sworn officers, and officers-in-service total.
Entry level officers can expect to make $40.06 per hour or $83,640 annually, not counting overtime pay or benefits.
Durkan has warned that the decrease in staff could put the city at risk of violating the requirements laid out in the consent decree issued to the SPD by a federal judge in 2012.
The decree is an agreement requiring the SPD develop best practices for mitigating excessive use of force and biased policing. In 2018, the U.S. District Judge James L. Robart found the city had met those requirements and ordered the city to maintain that standard for a two-year period.
In June, the city and the Department of Justice filed a joint motion to remove use of force from the consent decree ahead of the two-year countdown.
The city’s Office of Police Accountability is currently investigating the SPD for more than 100 open cases of alleged police brutality and biased policing based on thousands of complaints.