Council advances Seattle police hiring bonus proposal

SEATTLE — In an effort to deal with a critical shortage of officers in Seattle, the Public Safety & Human Services Committee on Tuesday approved a measure, 4-1, to advance police hiring bonuses.

Council Bill 120389 will go to the full council for a vote on Aug. 16.

The measure, which is sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, will potentially allow the Seattle Police Department to use unspent officer salaries:

  • Hiring bonuses for uniformed police officers
  • Expanded recruitment, testing, background, and marketing services
  • Non-monetary officer retention programs

The bill will also create four new positions in the Seattle Department of Human Resources for recruitment and testing services, transferring $228,000 from SPD to SDHR to fund the positions.

According to Seattle City Council, the police department has lost a net of 304 officers since 2020, negatively affecting the department’s ability to respond to calls.

The current number of officers is Seattle’s lowest in 30 years.

Lateral recruits could receive up to $30,000 and new recruits could get up to $7,500. In addition, the measure would pay city employees a $1,000 referral bonus for identifying and referring potential officers, pending graduation from the state police academy and field training with SPD.

Last month, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced his plan for dealing with the officer shortage and two retention initiatives that Council Bill 120389 would fund: A “Develop Our People” leadership academy that will train sergeants on engagement-based leadership principles, and “Wellness First” schedules to facilitate a compressed shift schedule of four 10-hour shifts, allowing officers three consecutive days off for rest and recuperation.