Mayor Durkan authorizes bonuses of up to $25K for new SPD hires

SEATTLE — Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an emergency declaration Friday authorizing hiring bonuses for new Seattle Police Department hires to help with staffing issues.

The order immediately authorizes hiring incentives by providing bonuses of up to $25,000 for lateral hires and $10,000 for new hires, depending on the level of experience, through 2021.

Over 250 officers have left the department over the past two years, reducing capacity and response times, according to Durkan’s office.

“When residents call 911, they expect an officer to show up – and when they call the 911 emergency line, they expect that someone will answer the phone. Hiring, recruiting and training takes months, and we need to act now to ensure we can have trained and deployable staff. Seattle cannot keep waiting to address the real public safety officer hiring and retention crisis we are experiencing in Seattle right now,” Durkan said

Durkan said the staffing shortfalls are now critical. Starting Oct. 29, residents who call the city’s non-emergency line may get a pre-recorded message to make sure 911 calls are prioritized.

“The Seattle Police Department is thankful Mayor Durkan recognizes our current staffing crisis and that she has taken the necessary step to ensure we can recruit the best and brightest new officers,” Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said.

Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Officer’s Guild, said he is skeptical the hiring incentives alone will be enough to fill the open positions.

“I don’t even know if people would want to come here due to the political climate, regardless of the money,” he said.

The decision on whether or not to move forward with the order is now in the hands of the Seattle City Council. The council has until the end of Monday to review the hiring bonuses.