POLICE STAFFING: Report shows Southwest Precinct with biggest drop in past year

(WSB file photo)

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.

55 Replies to "POLICE STAFFING: Report shows Southwest Precinct with biggest drop in past year"

  • U. Crane April 22, 2022 (4:50 pm)

    Here’s a hiring incentive idea for the city council: stop treating and denouncing police as the enemy.  Just a thought.  Not that they’ll listen.  It’s pretty f**king insulting for councilmembers to pretend like this isn’t a problem they are directly responsible for in the first place.

  • Peter April 22, 2022 (5:25 pm)

    What city council action are you upset about? Is it the generous hiring bonuses, the increased SPD funding, or the plush SPOG contract? 

    • Awakened April 22, 2022 (5:49 pm)

      There currently is no hiring bonus and no retention bonus for SPD. SPD is not competitive with surroundings agencies with money or working conditions. This is SCC’s fault. So no surprise they can’t hire people and the current officers are leaving. 

    • rob April 22, 2022 (8:31 pm)

       hey peter how much would be enough for you to be payed to stop drunk drivers chase down car jackers catch the guy who is running from a murder seen or stop the guy with a gun or sword going of in down town WS. or catch the thugs who robed the coin shop in WS or catch the guys who murderd the 29 year old father in tacoma

      • The Admiral April 22, 2022 (9:39 pm)

        Not sure how WS police staffing is related to crime in Tacoma?  But, I’m sure it’s Lisa’s fault, too, right?

        • Adam April 23, 2022 (9:21 am)

          That’s smooth, Admiral, in how you find one issue with the comment with many examples and somehow think you’ve proven a point. 

          • OneTimeCharley April 23, 2022 (11:25 am)

            Lisa Herbold will never receive another vote from me. Nor will any council member who votes against funding for SPD. I am watching far, far more closely now than I ever have in the past to local politics, and I’m quite sure I am not alone in this. The same goes for judges. If a bad one runs unopposed, then maybe a write-in candidacy is in order.

          • The Admiral April 23, 2022 (11:50 pm)

            The rest of the post was just misspellings and a non-grammatical word salad.  I assumed that spoke for itself.

    • Seattlite April 23, 2022 (4:34 pm)

      Peter…How much of a hiring bonus would you take with policies that do not protect police officers or citizens?

    • Whoops April 23, 2022 (4:43 pm)

      I think  Peter was joking everyone.  Obviously. 

  • Chris K April 22, 2022 (5:43 pm)

    It is unfortunate that we are going back to wanting more police.

    • Wseattleite April 22, 2022 (8:50 pm)

      It is indeed, but entirely predictable, and a shame that so much carnage has to reign to prove that we need police. I hope we are done with the idiotic experiments that the the disrespectful midnight marches were encouraging.  It is amazing that Lisa cowed to this tiny vocal minority. Pure lack of common sense and direction. 

    • Lauren April 23, 2022 (10:29 am)

      Yes it is. Defund the police, invest in our communities.

      • Ex-Westwood Resident April 23, 2022 (12:45 pm)

        Yes!!! Because that has worked SO well the past 2.5 YEARS!!!!

      • Rhonda April 23, 2022 (1:05 pm)

        We tried that and now Seattle’s murders have doubled 2 years in a row. We have 17 so far this year and we haven’t had summer yet. How many have to die before you get it?

        • Lauren April 23, 2022 (3:06 pm)

          Rhonda, that question works the other way, too: How many Black Americans have to die before you get it? 

      • Walker April 23, 2022 (1:09 pm)

        Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t we fund the police AND invest in our communities? It’s not like we lack resources around here.

        • Whoops April 23, 2022 (4:46 pm)

          It actually can be both.  Defunders haven’t understood that yet.  Both need to be done and that’s the only fix. I cannot believe there are still those that claim this is working out well. The murder rate and crime rate are disastrous.

  • Alex April 22, 2022 (6:24 pm)

    Put this on Lisa Herbold and the rest of the Council.   They ran off the Police Chief and a third of the force between resignations and long term leave.    They promised us they would stand up a response team that would take the place of police coming to nonlethal 911 calls.   Where is it?   These numbers don’t even tell the worst story because when something big happens in the other precincts, they pull officers out of W. Seattle to assist.    Defund the Council!

    • ~Hockeywitch~ April 22, 2022 (8:59 pm)

      Absolutely agree 100%, Alex. This is on Herbold and Seattle City CLOWN-cil. I want Police!! I want to have someone show  up when I call 911. About a month ago, my neighbor downstairs was getting the living $hite beat out of her by her boyfriend… Me and a couple other neighbors called 911. it took them 35 mins to get there.. I Back The Blue, but that was ridiculous..  DEFUND THE CLOWNCIL!!!!

    • East Coast Cynic April 23, 2022 (9:18 am)

      When something big happens in West Seattle, do they pull cops out of other precincts to assist????We lost more cops than the CHOP (East) Precinct?  Is our crime too deadly or is our precinct too busy for the rank and file to put up with or what?

  • Simon April 22, 2022 (7:14 pm)

    What a fantastic opportunity to reallocate resources towards actually solving and preventing public safety problems! You could deploy 2 qualified human services professionals for the cost of the salary of one entry level SPD officer. With the cost of the bloated salaries of longtimers retiring and administrators you could really invest in strategies empirically validated to improve public health and safety the way our current ineffective interventions of violence and threats of violence do not.   

    • John April 22, 2022 (8:58 pm)

      Not this.I’m sure the criminals reported on in WSB will have the greatest respect for human services professionals. I sure wouldn’t want one to respond if I should be a victim of violent crime. We’re now suffering the consequences of the defund the police movement.

      • Simon April 22, 2022 (9:48 pm)

        Okay, you know the police here or anywhere else faced significant funding cuts, right? They haven’t been defunded. Response to active violent crime? Yes, the appropriate skillset to respond to that includes violence and threats of violence. But for a significant portion of public safety calls, police are simply not qualified to resolve them in a meaningful way. And in our current framework, they shouldn’t be asked to work outside of that scope. It’s a fiscal as well as moral issue. Force is not an effective use of resources in response to mental illness, chemical dependency, and cyclical trauma. It’s easy to to just repeat that more cops equal a safer community but it just isn’t so. We need a more evolved and nuanced approach to solve our public safety woes in a morally and fiscally responsible way.

        • The King April 23, 2022 (6:52 am)

          Ok Simon, if someone with a mental illness has you or one of your family members at gunpoint, is giving five minutes to have demands met or the hostage dies and there is a police officer on site. Do you want the police officer to do what they are trained for or do you wait for a kind word specialist to show up to ask the potential murderer to fill out a questionnaire about their mental illness history to talk about it for a while. 

        • Laura April 23, 2022 (10:31 am)

          100% Simon. My cousin-in-law is a social worker who does this type of work. She and her coworkers partner closely with police to keep everyone (including the person in crisis) safe. It’s an amazingly effective program.

        • wscommuter April 23, 2022 (10:33 am)

          This is the kind of sophomoric “wisdom” used by people who have no idea about what law enforcement actually does and are required to deal with … on  a daily basis.  I suspect that if you actually read through the daily call sheet for any given patrol officer you’d see a mixture of 911 calls that cover the gamut.  Perhaps you’re psychic – perhaps you know in advance which DV call involves mental health issues but not a risk of violence.  Perhaps you know which shoplifting call involves a person carrying a knife or worse, versus which one is simply a misdemeanor theft by a drug addict in need of treatment.  Your implication that we only need  police for “active violent crime” response in favor of a social worker or MH counselor – is silly and ignorant.  And to be sure – we should have those resources as follow up when people commit crime because they are poor, or addicted, or mentally ill.  Fund that.  Put those resources in place.  But only a fool would think that we don’t need to bolster our police department.  Crime is on the increase and people who are victims of crime – from the car owner  whose catalytic converter is stolen, to the store owner who has to deal with endemic shoplifting, to the average – and typically poorer and BIPOC communities – who have to live with the crime committed most commonly around them – ALL deserve effective law enforcement to protect them and their property and livelihoods.  Social workers can help effect long-term assistance.  But the crime committed today requires a law enforcement response.  

          • OneTimeCharley April 23, 2022 (11:36 am)

            Smartest and most accurate thing I have read in a long time. Well stated WSCommuter. 

          • Simon April 23, 2022 (2:56 pm)

            Ever notice that people that espouse this position often do it with petty insults, generalization without backup, and unfunny sarcasm? That tone comes from a specific type of media consumption. If we all take a breath, neighbor, I think you’ll see we are in at least partial agreement. Investing in those crucial, life saving services in advance, would prevent crime, violence on the part of the citizenry, and violence on the part of the state in response.  You seem to stipulate that in between the snarky attacks. Our tax dollars should be spent on the right personnel for the right job, seeking the most benefit to public safety, with the least risk of harm.

          • Walker April 23, 2022 (3:08 pm)

            There’s a problem with this logic I’ve always struggled with – cutting funding from the police BEFORE these societal issues are solved creates a period of time in which the problems still exist but there is no response to them. People seem to think that by getting rid of police crime will magically stop happening.

    • ltfd April 22, 2022 (9:10 pm)

      Simon, you seem very well educated, intelligent and wise ….

    • Thomas A Wood April 23, 2022 (7:15 am)

      When is this fantasy going to be a reality?The Council has talked about this non lethal force when is it going to come to fruition? Day after day SPD is called to deal with people in distress.In fact a officer was hurt Friday dealing with a person in distress. 

  • Wild Wild West Seattle April 22, 2022 (7:17 pm)

    We have fewer cops and virtually no traffic enforcement and it shows. As I was reading this thread yet another scofflaw racing to get home or to Alki the back way just busted west on Graham off of California going 45 in a 25, at least. And it’s constant. My letters to the police and Lisa go unanswered. Children live here. I’ve even put up the city’s “slow down” signs and successfully had a 25 mph sign put up to no avail. When someone gets killed this blog will report it as an “accident.” It is a CRIME waiting to happen and wholly avoidable with just minimal speeding enforcement. Where are the cops?? Looking at you, Lisa. Your so called service to this community is shameful. 

    • WSB April 22, 2022 (8:31 pm)

      No, actually, “this blog” does *not* use the word “accident” to describe a collision, ever. That goes back to my pre-WSB days in TV, though unfortunately those in that branch of the media are not necessarily all similarly enlightened. – TR

  • Watertowerjim April 23, 2022 (6:18 am)

    Wonder how it compares to 2020?  Actions have consequences.  Send in the social workers!  

  • Findlay April 23, 2022 (8:54 am)

    Glad to see more citizens concerned about public safety. We’ve got the government that we voted for, so the blame is on all of us. Lisa Herbold consistently is criticized for not responding to her constituents and is apart of the wing of the Council that has grossly mismanaged our city. Can anyone point to any accomplishments for West Seattle? Get used to a lot of property crime. Another invisible tax we get to pay for living in the city. Hope change is gonna come!

  • Jerry April 23, 2022 (10:05 am)

     I wonder how many times it has to be proved that more police does not = public safety before some people understand the concept.

  • anonyme April 23, 2022 (10:28 am)

    Mental illness, chemical dependency, and “cyclical trauma” (code word for domestic violence) are some of the most dangerous situations a cop faces, much less a social worker.  By the time these situations have reached a crisis point of violence necessitating a 911 call, it is far too late for this type of intervention.  Police should absolutely be trained in non-lethal methods of coping with those in crisis, but the suggestion that a nice chat with a ‘human services professional’ is the best way to deal with someone having a psychological break is dangerously naive and a good way to get more people killed. 

    • ltfd April 23, 2022 (11:51 am)

      Agreed – from a later WS Blog entry:CRISIS RESPONSE LEAVES OFFICER INJURED: We received multiple questions today about a sizable police response Thursday afternoon just north of Lincoln Park. So in case you wondered too – SPD says it started as a person-in-crisis call; while waiting for an ambulance to take the person to a hospital for evaluation, he “head-butted” and then kicked an officer – that’s why more backup was summoned. The officer was not seriously hurt.

    • Simon April 23, 2022 (3:32 pm)

      Hi, cyclical trauma is not just a code word for domestic violence as I am talking about it. This also includes trauma exposure in military service, placement in child protective services, living conditions in multi-generational poverty, ancestral trauma in many populations, history of incarceration often as a child, and other conditions. Similar to someone else on here, I think you and I are in more agreement than you might think. Investment in frameworks that prevent those conditions manifesting in dangers to public safety would pay off mightily, in a permanent way for so many of our neighbors, without the need for use of force. I wish more people on here could conceive of a world in in that police call is never made, without a need to make it, and public safety spending returns better results and less violence.

  • Lauren April 23, 2022 (10:39 am)

    The New York Police Department’s budget is nearly $6 billion. And yet all of that funding didn’t stop the horrific subway shooting earlier this month. 

    • OneTimeCharley April 23, 2022 (11:47 am)

      What an incredibly idiotic thing to say. No one (other than perhaps you) thinks that any level of police funding will eliminate all crime or terrorism. I can guarantee you however that if there were no police around we would become as lawless as Mad Max in pretty short order. There are plenty of people around you every day who would be perfectly happy if survival of the fittest were to the become the next big, new thing.

    • Ex-Westwood Resident April 23, 2022 (12:52 pm)

      Yes, it DID!Because of cuts, there are not enough Officers to patrol the Subway stations and trains as in the past.

    • Canton April 23, 2022 (9:39 pm)

      @Lauren. 5.44 billion to be exact, which is 5.5% of the city’s budget. New York has a population of 8.4 million. With 35,000  sworn officers, that’s 1 officer per 240 people. Not a good example, so try again.

  • Seattlite April 23, 2022 (4:30 pm)

    There is no  civilized society without law and order.   Criminals seem to be put above the law-abiding citizens resulting in more crime due to reduced police officer staffing and no consequences.

  • Pessoa April 23, 2022 (10:25 pm)

    Seattle police do receive crisis counseling training, and over half have 40 hours of CIT certification. Not extensive training, but some at least.  Considering the thousands of calls they respond to over the course of a year, the numbers of officer involved deaths here and nationally is extremely tiny.  From this, one must conclude that as a rule,  most police officer’s first instinct is not to draw their firearm and come out blazing.  There are horrendously tragic exceptions where a mentally ill person in crisis who does not pose an immediate threat has lost their life, yes.  But there are also many volatile, fast-moving situations where the police are dealing with someone who might pose a lethal threat to themselves and anyone close by.  In Los Angeles there have been a spate of terrible, random, fatal stabbings committed by those who must be considered mentally ill.  One victim was  Brianna Kupfer, a UCLA student who was working alone in a department store when attacked.  Had they been at the scene of these stabbings, I am skeptical that even a legion of highly trained psychologists could have determined with certainty, a priori, if  the cold-blooded monster responsible for her death was a psychopath posing an iminent danger, or a person who was simply overwhelmed by life.  

  • Leaves April 24, 2022 (2:24 am)

    The pandemic has had impacts on everything, likely police services, too.

Sorry, comment time is over.