‘I refuse to work for this socialist City Council’ Resigning SPD cops cite low morale, safety and city leaders as reasons for leaving

SEATTLE — Over 175 pages of exit interviews from more than one hundred SPD officers stating their reasons for leaving their jobs. The same handwritten complaints--often including the same phrasing--can be seen repeatedly. KIRO-7 obtained the exit interviews after a public document request.

One cop wrote: “I refuse to work for this socialist City Council and their political agenda. It ultimately will destroy the fabric of this once fine city.”

Another outgoing officer cited: “An unwinnable battle with the City Council. It will be the downfall of the city of Seattle.”

Another, on his way to a job with a neighboring police department, said: “The city’s morals do not match my own.”

Exactly 39 SPD officers quit or retired just last month, and 110 have left this year. That number is higher than in any year since at least 2012, the department said.

“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,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement.

Almost every officer who is leaving for another law enforcement job wrote in their exit interview they feared losing their SPD job due to the council’s defunding efforts and felt department leadership is helpless to stop it. One said: "The people who run the department have to be politicians and work with people who hate us.''

The President of the Seattle Police Guild called the resignation trend “deflating.”

“I’m seeing what still believe is a great department being torn apart by politics,” said Mike Solan.

“You’ve got major politicians still pushing false narratives of the job of policing,” he said. “Because facts don’t matter anymore, truth doesn’t matter anymore. And it all depends upon how you feel that day, and that’s why officers are leaving this city in droves.”

Some officers cited safety as the reason for leaving: “If staff is cut, officers will be responding without adequate backup and it will either be unsafe for officers or unsafe for civilians who are waiting even longer for assistance,” wrote an officer who resigned in September.

City Council public safety chair Lisa Herbold said the 110 departures so far this year are 11 more officers than SPD projected to retire or resign in all of 2020. However, she also noted in a statement that “one month’s data is not a trend.”

When asked if they would ever work for SPD again, one outgoing cop said: “If the political climate stabilizes and a more supportive council comes into play, I would love to return home as an officer.”