Seattle mayor, police chief unveil campaign to recruit more officers

SEATTLE — Seattle’s mayor and police chief on Monday unveiled a new campaign to hire more Seattle police officers.

The department and city kicked off a $1.2 million recruitment strategy that includes a new campaign highlighting local police officers and their connection to the communities they serve.

The “This is My Neighborhood” campaign features billboards that tell the stories – with a new one each month -- of 12 Seattle police officers with strong connections to neighborhoods across the city.

The department has been facing a recruitment issue over the past several years, but with the new program, the department says it’s going to hire more officers with a greater diversity of backgrounds.

KIRO 7 asked the Chief Best about the efforts.

“We’re recruiting so we have enough officers to respond to everything across the city. That’s what really is important to us. It’s not for one neighborhood, one area, one section -- across the board we need more people, and we’re working hard to get more people here,” said Best.

In 2019, Seattle released the 2019 Recruitment & Hiring Retention Workgroup report, which outlined 12 initiatives aimed to improve hiring, recruitment, and retention at SPD. The City’s 2020 adopted budget includes $1.2 million to fund the initiatives.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said during a news conference that in 2019, the police department hired 109 new officers. Of those hired, 39 percent of them were people of color and 17 percent of them were women.

As of Jan. 31, 2020, SPD has hired 11 officers.

KIRO 7 reported in November the department lost 81 officers last year, some of them to nearby agencies.

Exit interviews with those officers showed frustration with city leadership and policies.