Next Tuesday morning, the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee is scheduled to get its quarterly update on Seattle Police staffing. The numbers in the presentation document that’s now available with the agenda online show that SPD now expects to hire fewer new officers this year than originally projected, 98 instead of 125. And a year-to-year comparison shows the staffing shortage is hitting our area the hardest. The precinct-by-precinct numbers show that the Southwest Precinct, which covers West Seattle and South Park, has lost the most sworn staff, in number as well as percentages. We compared the table in the 2021 first-quarter report with the table from the same period in 2022. Here’s 2021:
And here’s 2022:
Two precincts actually gained sworn staff – East and West – while North lost only 1. But South lost 6 and Southwest lost 7 – down to 58 sergeants and officers in our area, from 65 in the same period last year. Precinct supervisors have mentioned multiple times at community meetings we’ve covered that staffing is precariously low at times – at HPAC in January, for example, the group was told the precinct has been as low as 3 officers some nights, when the minimum per shift is supposed to be more than three times that. So why is the staffing pain so uneven? We’re asking.
Meantime, next Tuesday morning’s 9:30 am meeting of the committee, which West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold chairs, includes a discussion of a proposal to bring back hiring incentives. The agenda includes information on how to watch, and comment at, the meeting.