SPD begins bonus program to try to hire 100+ officers

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed legislation on Monday approving a bonus program that will pay new Seattle police officers $15,000 if they’re coming from another police department and $7,500 if they are a new police recruit.

The mayor said it is just part of the city’s major hiring push, which also includes recruitment activities in other cities like Honolulu, Atlanta and Houston.

SPD aims to hire 104 new officers in 2019: 84 new recruits and 20 lateral hires. If they do it, it will cost the city about $930,000. Spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said SPD will pay for it through savings within its own budget. He said the department will use money earmarked for officers salaries that is not currently being used.

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Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez said the $7,500 bonus for new recruits was essential because not only are more officers coming from that class, but that group is also highly diverse as well.

“I wanted to make sure that we had a policy that allowed and supported the Police Department to continue to show success in their ability to recruit people from diverse backgrounds,” she said.

“The community has been asking loud and clear—we need to see officers that look like us,” Paulina Lopez, co-chair of SPD’s Latino Advisory Council, said.

Numbers show last year, 109 Seattle police officers left the department, whether it was going to another department, retiring, or other reasons.

The mayor pointed out Monday that other major cities across the country are also struggling to hire officers but said that this step will make SPD more competitive.

In the Puget Sound area, only Bellevue now will offer more to its lateral hires at $16,000 per person.

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