In 2019, Seattle Police Department Hired Highest Percentage of People of Color in its History

In 2019, Seattle Police Department Hired 108 Officers, 39 Percent of Whom Are People of Color

Launches “This is My Neighborhood” Campaign to Hire and Recruit Local Officers

Seattle (February 24, 2020) – Standing alongside officers and community members at Hing Hay Park in the Chinatown-International District, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best lauded the Seattle Police Department’s 2019 hiring data. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) hired 108 officers in 2019, which is the highest number of officers hired in over a decade at the department. Of those 108 hires, 39 percent were people of color, which is the highest percentage of people of color hired in single year in the department’s history. On December 31, 2019, SPD had 1,369 total sworn officers, plus 56 recruits who were either in the Academy or waiting for a spot in the Academy. In 2020, SPD continues its positive trend in recruitment, and has hired 11 officers as of January 31.

To continue this positive trend, SPD launched the new “This is My Neighborhood” campaign to hire and recruit local officers. “This is My Neighborhood” continues the City’s work to advance hiring, recruitment, and retention at the Seattle Police Department. Last year, the City released the 2019 Recruitment & Hiring Retention Workgroup report, which outlines 12 key strategies the City can take to recruit and retain more police officers dedicated to reform and true community policing.

“Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the country over the last decade, but our police department has not grown proportionally, and we’re working hard to catch up. In 2020, we’re a big city with big city challenges, and we need a robust police department with officers committed to true, community policing,” said Mayor Durkan. “With this new campaign, we’re doubling down on our work to hire new officers who represent the diverse communities we serve. The Seattle Police Department is the best in the country, and we’ll continue to lead the way in hiring women and people of color.”

“The Seattle Police Department is committed to the ideal that we are a part of the community, not apart from the community. It is so important we continue to highlight the great work our hiring unit is doing to build a diverse department that represents, and connects, with the communities we serve. The goal for the team at SPD focused on this project was to tell the stories of department employees with strong connections to neighborhoods across the city. These billboards, and the storytelling associated with them, is the next step in showcasing the amazing work the department has done to hit historic hiring and diversity numbers. I want to thank Mayor Durkan and the City Council for supporting our hiring initiatives,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

“A police department that reflects Seattle’s diversity is a primary pillar of our effort to grow the number of officers available to serve. The Council supported recruitment in the 2020 budget by providing funding to implement the Recruitment & Hiring Retention work group and we’re requesting monthly updates on progress toward meeting 2020 hiring goals. The Council has increased funding for the Seattle Police Department by $110 million over the last four years,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle/South Park).

By the end of 2018, SPD lost a net of 41 officers, which caused the Mayor and Chief to research and revamp the department’s hiring and recruitment practices. However, this experience is not unique to Seattle; America’s growing officer shortage is a recognized national crisis. As the nation’s population has increased, the number of sworn officers has failed to keep pace. From 1997 to 2016, the total U.S. population increased by 21 percent, but the number of full-time sworn officers in law enforcement increased by eight percent.

In 2019, the City released the 2019 Recruitment & Hiring Retention Workgroup report, which outlined 12 key initiatives to improve hiring, recruitment, and retention at SPD. The City’s 2020 Adopted Budget includes $1.2 million to fund and operationalize these initiatives.

The “This is My Neighborhood” billboard seeks to expand the size and diversity of the police force. Through this effort SPD will tell the stories of 12 officers between February 2020 and February 2021. Each month a different officer will be the focus of social media stories, video storytelling and appear on a neighborhood billboard. These 12 employees come from a broad representation of positions throughout the department – including patrol and other specialty units.

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Officer Judinna Gulpan, the first officer featured in the “This is My Neighborhood” campaign, says a career in law enforcement never crossed her mind until a few years ago. Officer Gulpan, who was born in the Philippines and grew up in Southern California, was focused on two things while attending college in Hawaii: being a member of the school’s competition cheerleading team and her fashion advertising and marketing degree. That love for fashion led to incredible jobs in Hawaii, Hong Kong and eventually the Seattle-area. Though she enjoyed her work, she says she wanted to find something where she could help people and give back to her new community. She met with a Seattle Police Department recruiter and is  now part of the downtown Community Police Team. To learn more about Officer Gulpan, please take a look at her department biography and corresponding video.

For more information on SPD’s recruitment and hiring initiatives, including information on how to apply to become an officers, visit www.seattlepolicejobs.com.