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Mayor Jenny Durkan Announces Plan to Invest $1.6 Million in 2020 Budget to Speed Up Hiring, Improve Retention at Seattle Police Department

Following Extensive Survey and Data-Driven Study, Mayor Proposing These Significant Investments in SPD Hiring, Recruiting, and Retention in 2020 Budget

Mayor Also Announces Plan to Invest Nearly $850,000 to Continue Community-Based Emphasis Patrols in 2020

Seattle (September 10, 2019) – As part of her 2020 Proposed Budget, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced her plan to invest $1.6 million to strengthen recruitment, speed up hiring, and improve retention of officers at the Seattle Police Department (SPD). After a data-driven study and survey among SPD officers, Mayor Durkan and Chief Best announced the implementation of the report’s recommendations for strategic hiring and retention.

“As Seattle grows, we must make sure we are recruiting, hiring and retaining the most experienced officers who can provide public safety and are committed to lasting reform. That’s how we can build the best and most effective community policing department in America,” said Mayor Durkan. “We have a responsibility to promote the vitality and safety of our communities, and I will continue to work closely with Chief Best and other members of my cabinet to monitor the impact of these new resources. I am grateful to our police department, including the more that 100 officers and recruits who were instrumental in helping us take this step forward, and other City employees who are helping address these community priorities.”

“The Seattle Police Department – like many other departments across the nation – has been facing staffing shortages and challenges in recruiting and retaining officers. Our city deserves the best quality police services, and the members of the SPD deserve to be supported in their careers. While policing has changed dramatically over my career, our need for selfless and dedicated individuals has not. I am thankful to Mayor Durkan, our city partners, and the more than 100 officers and recruits who contributed to this work,” said Chief of Police Carmen Best.

In the report, the Recruitment and Retention Workgroup – which included experts from SPD, the Mayor’s Office Innovation and Performance Team, the City Council, and the Seattle Department of Human Resources – proposed SPD implement 12 initiatives to address staffing challenges the organization faces in meeting its service goals, including: 

  • Recruitment: Three initiatives that seek to increase the number and diversity of applicants.
  • Hiring: Four initiatives that seek to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the hiring process.
  • Retention: Five initiatives that seek to retain our talented, well-trained staff.

Click here to read the final report.

In a letter to SPD employees, Mayor Durkan and Chief Best announced the full report as well as the creation of a strategic hiring and retention plan, implementation of the recommendations provided by the Recruitment and Retention Workgroup, and a new interdepartmental workgroup to support recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies.

Mayor Durkan and Chief Best also announced that the Mayor’s 2020 budget will include $847,000 to continue community-based emphasis patrols at 2019 levels in 2020. In April, based on community feedback and data analysis by SPD, Mayor Durkan and Chief Best announced the beginning of the emphasis patrols to improve public safety in seven Seattle neighborhoods. Emphasis patrols are a recognized practice in police departments across the country and an evidence-based strategy to fight crime. They are also a decades-long strategy in Seattle.

In 2019, these patrols, combined with the work of City departments, have shown positive results. Between May and July, officers in emphasis zones made contact with hundreds of individuals, offering services, referrals to LEAD, warnings, citations. Residents have reported increased visibility by SPD officers. SPD will continue to evaluate the impact to understand continued and future deployments in those and other areas.

As of August 2019, City-wide crime is down eight percent compared to the same time in 2018.