VIDEO: ‘Are we happy with the status quo?’ asks newest councilmember as committee discusses Seattle Police’s shrinking staff

The Seattle Police Department is still losing more officers and hiring fewer than projected. So what if anything should/can be done about it? That question was at the heart of the latest SPD-staffing briefing, presented this morning to the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, chaired by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold.

Overall, the committee was told, “the trend is not particularly good.” Here are the numbers presented by analyst Greg Doss:

We first mentioned the report last Friday, when it was released; we noted that the Southwest Precinct, which covers West Seattle and South Park, had lost more sworn staff in the past year – both in number and in percentage – than other precincts. (Our questions sent immediately to SPD and Herbold remain unanswered.) The discussion at today’s meeting didn’t get that granular. The issue became what to do about the continued staffing drop – or whether to do anything at all. That was a sharp point of disagreement between some of the councilmembers. Citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (a West Seattle resident) emphasized that research has shown many of the calls handled by police could be handled by other types of responders. Yes, but, asked Councilmember Alex Pedersen, does the city have those alternative responders available today? “No,” replied Doss. Recently elected citywide Councilmember Sara Nelson, who is pushing to reinstate hiring incentives, asked, “Are we happy with the status quo? Are we fine with doing nothing? I am not.” In response to an observation that other cities are having hiring challenges too, Nelson wondered if any other cities are having trouble with departures as well as hiring.

Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, also present at the online meeting, said the current staffing situation is causing “wear and tear” because almost every shift needs to be “augmented” with officers on overtime just to reach minimum levels. Response times continue rising, with “priority 2” calls up to half an hour, “priority 3” calls averaging a full hour, he said.

While Nelson is proposing a resolution expressing support for hiring bonuses/incentives, Herbold is proposing a bill to offer money to cover moving expenses for officers hired from outside Seattle – and for some other types of city employees; in the ongoing discussion of the SPD staffing challenges, she has countered that other departments face critical staffing challenges too. (This document from the meeting goes into both councilmembers’ proposals, as well as data including what other cities are offering.)

Nelson continued to advocate for hiring bonuses: “If we don’t do this, what else are we going to do? … I don’t see how we’re going to get to 98 new hires this year if we’ve only had 13 so far.” She wanted to extend the discussion, but Herbold cut it off, with the item having run more than an hour – twice the allotted time – and with two other items on the agenda, including another hot topic (the PayUp proposal for app-based workers). No votes had been scheduled for today, so the discussion is likely to continue when this committee reconvenes next month.

68 Replies to "VIDEO: 'Are we happy with the status quo?' asks newest councilmember as committee discusses Seattle Police's shrinking staff"

  • East Coast Cynic April 27, 2022 (12:03 am)

    Maybe the city council could use a few more reality based Sara Nelsons.  Most of the others seem to want to sweep the staffing problem under the rug.  It’s rather frustrating (and typical Seattle politics) that the political actors that were pushing for alternative responders to the cops to handle 911 calls have not come up with these responders, preferring to “cop out” on the staffing problem.

    • K April 27, 2022 (6:23 am)

      Did you watch the hearing?  Lisa Herbold is pushing to hire an SPD recruiter–which the department has been asking for–in an effort to help hire more police.  Nelson wants none of it.  There is no evidence that hiring bonuses makes a difference, and there are other solutions that HAVE proven helpful in other cities that Nelson won’t even consider.  She will always choose grandstanding and optics over actual solutions.  

      • Thomas A Wood April 27, 2022 (12:35 pm)

        Apparently you haven’t followed Lisa Herbold  she’s the queen of lip service.Send up the weather balloon see which way the wind is blowing.She has no intention of supporting hiring more cops. Its all an act!

    • Nolan April 27, 2022 (5:09 pm)

      There are few things further from reality than the belief that more funding for police will somehow solve crime. Nelson’s refusal to accept that is not actually that different from the rest of the council’s reluctance to invest in community over cops.

      Incidentally, why do you think Seattle PD’s 153 years of failure deserves more funds, but a single year of attempted reforms doesn’t?

      • Lauren April 28, 2022 (9:53 am)

        Preach, Nolan

      • Andrew April 29, 2022 (7:30 am)

        Thank you Nolan.  

  • Neighbor April 27, 2022 (1:44 am)

    Do we know the records of officers from other towns?  If they are already officers why would they move here?  Doesn’t seem like a great place to be a cop.  So moving would only appeal to cops that were fired or are running from trouble.  I much prefer the idea of hiring incentives after non-police options have been staffed.

    • Chuck Jacobs April 27, 2022 (7:41 am)

      This is what we voted for.

      • Nathan H April 27, 2022 (9:58 am)

        No Chuck, we voted for people who said they would increase police staffing and presence, then turned around and did the opposite the instant it became politically fashionable to do so.  The entire city council should be fired and replaced with people who will pledge to faithfully represent the interests they claim to stand for.

        • Jeepney April 27, 2022 (1:12 pm)

          Nathan H, you are spot on.  How quickly people forgot Herbold’s abrupt shift.  This needs to be remembered come election time.

          • Runner April 27, 2022 (2:34 pm)

            I hope that the voters are reminded of that often when it’s election time. 

    • Anne April 27, 2022 (8:11 am)

      Presume much????

      • Neighbor April 27, 2022 (1:04 pm)

        This is a well known phenomenon.  Cops get out of line in one town and move on to the next one.  Look at the Auburn officer who got drunk and killed a guy last week.  He had been a cop in Bellevue and at UW before Auburn.  What were the circumstances of his departure from those departments?  It would be irresponsible to just assume a cop is trustworthy because they were a cop somewhere else.

  • The King April 27, 2022 (3:34 am)

    The crime must not look so bad in the city when you work remotely at home. 

  • Eric1 April 27, 2022 (3:48 am)

    Cover moving expenses for police officers as an incentive. LOL. The only moving expense I’d like to see covered by the city is Herbold’s one out of Seattle.  She should be offering up officers out of the SW precinct to others since she supports de-funding the police.  She obviously thinks we have too many cops so why not show how fewer cops will be great for District 1.  The only police I ever saw regularly in my neighborhood was the officer who USED to live down the street.  I don’t blame any officer leaving the city and I question the sanity of any officer who chooses to work in Seattle given the hostile work environment created by the majority of the city clowncil.  TBH, I have had police respond to my house for a health emergency and that I appreciate (they are often closer than the fire station and are likely in a moving vehicle). I would hate to give that up but then again, what am I actually giving up given the increase in response times due to the current lack of officers? The fire department may actually be arriving first anyway.  

  • Scubafrog April 27, 2022 (3:59 am)

    I agree with Sara Nelson, we need hiring incentives, not Herbold’s ‘moving incentives’.  Moreover, I think it says a lot that Herbold wouldn’t extend the discussion.  As an aside, Interim Chief Diaz is great, and I hope he stays on permanently.

  • New Salt April 27, 2022 (4:23 am)

    Public safety is one of the top concerns of most Seattle residents right now, violent crime is still increasing, and this is all we get? Cutting discussion short until the next meeting in a couple weeks? This is pathetic leadership; they should be be holding committee every single day as long as things continue to get worse. Skip to 2h27m09s in the video if you’re interested in the part where Herbold shows her (lack of) priorities (and general pettiness). 2023 chopping block can’t come soon enough.

  • anonyme April 27, 2022 (6:38 am)

    The hypocrisy of Lisa Herbold is appalling.  She does her best to disrupt and demoralize the police department, resulting in ever-worsening staff losses.  Not surprisingly, she cuts off the discussion exposing her incompetence.  Meanwhile, the overtime issue continues so that citizens are paying even more money for less police protection.  The proposed solution?  More money, of course!  It seems like the more we pay, the worse it gets – on this issue and many others.  Hopefully there will be a reckoning come next election day.

  • Canton April 27, 2022 (6:57 am)

    Would like to thank Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen for working in office while the other council members remain remote. At least 2 council members want to work.

  • Jeepney April 27, 2022 (7:06 am)

    This is a very enlightening article, and well written.  There are still those on the city council who just don’t get it, but it looks like a few are starting to get a clue.

  • Jon Wright April 27, 2022 (7:22 am)

    Is there any evidence hiring incentives work? What effects do hiring incentives have on existing SPD staff? Should we prioritize retaining existing staff instead? I don’t think Councilmember Nelson knows. My concern is “We need hiring bonuses!” is just a simplistic attempt to appear like something is being done. I’m all in favor of a bias for action, but it still needs to be sensible action that helps and doesn’t cause unintended consequences.

  • Runner April 27, 2022 (7:26 am)

    Thank you Sara Nelson!  Herbold continues to be the problem, not part of the solution.  She should have been fired when she supported defunding the police in the first place.  What a terrible decision that was when the grand solution she supported was not yet in place.  I honestly can’t think of why anyone would want to be an officer in Seattle where the city council thinks you are the problem.  

  • Mark Schletty April 27, 2022 (8:02 am)

    Quite simply— Herbold has to be voted out.

  • Cogburn April 27, 2022 (8:07 am)

    NO, I am not happy. If many calls could be answered by alternatives to armed officers, and the council has been saying that for over two years, why have they not implemented any such alternative, any at all. Until Sarah Nelson, kudos to her, took a seat on council, the other members, not including Pedersen, have totally ignored the issue and continued to try to defund the police even more, resulting in the mess we now have.  Besides an absence of concern and expertise in public safety, the council has suffered from any of them, except Pedersen, who knows tweadle or gives a hoot about maintaining infrastructure. You bet I’m not happy.

  • Anne April 27, 2022 (8:23 am)

    Folks – including the SCC-do realize that new hires doesn’t translate to immediately on the street right? Be it 13 or 98-it will be months before those officers will be available(lateral transfers could be sooner). Lisa Herbold-who ran on the promise of hiring more police-then backtracked on that-now flipping once again -and promoting paying for moving expenses-wow how generous Lisa.Mosquedo-where are those non-police employees that will handle”many calls”. Where is the city in the hiring & training -how long before there are an adequate number of them? 

  • UselessPoliticians April 27, 2022 (8:24 am)

    They just don’t get it so they?  It’s not about the money it’s about the anti police culture of the employer…Who wants to work for someone that doesn’t have your back or worse immediately thinks you are a racist, murderer POS and every breath you take will be scrutinized?Not to mention they want to hire a bunch of Mall Cops which is fine for some stuff but eliminates any amount of deterrent that is a result of having an adequate police force

    • Simon April 27, 2022 (2:30 pm)

      With respect, this is a total myth. Police enjoy a privileged station in our society. They receive deference and recognition in all spaces. They enjoy presumption of reasonable action and can do things on the job that would get you or I fired and arrested. They enjoy at least a measure of official immunity from civil liability when they make negligent mistakes or even commit crimes in malice.  For what limited ill will they have from a handful of people, they have not engaged in a way to resolve demonstrably horrible problems. In wake of the murder of George Floyd, SPOG and official SPD leadership would not engage in discussions or racial inequity in law enforcement. Rather they just talked about not using the specific methods of force that killed Floyd. They provably lied about events at non violent demonstrations, coordinated and went light on violent extremists from one side of the political spectrum, and utilized  weapons against the Geneva convention, unprovoked against non violent protesters. When protesters were injured or killed, they joked about it with their fellow officers. Enough with this talk of victimhood from law enforcement. They are the ones with more power. They have weapons, a supportive public, and public perception of moral superiority. It is on them to engage with the public in a way that inspires confidence. More transparency and willingness to engage in discussions that concern the community, and less whining would be a great place to start. 

      • UselessPoliticians April 27, 2022 (4:57 pm)

        Nice recital of completely inaccurate and old propaganda…. Your woke nonsense is more dangerous than you think and is exactly why the crime problem will only get worse and not better.

        • Simon April 27, 2022 (7:15 pm)

          Nice smug response. Tell me what is not current or inaccurate. Nice use of the word “woke”. I can tell what you watch and read through that. Public safety must evolve to regain the confidence of the people. Police agencies are in established power with huge leverage that they flex at the cost, both financial and practical of the people. They have engaged in no substantive way with the discussion of inequities that inspired the largest social movement in the history of our country. Should local police agencies have any part in healing the strained relationships with people in the community? As employers, do they have a responsibility to structure their jobs to make them appealing to candidates? But no, I guess, because a handful of people have something to say about the outcomes of the deployment of public resources, their taxpayer resources, it is on those community members. I guess I am dangerous for just repeating some facts, right?     

    • Jort April 27, 2022 (5:24 pm)

      Why do countries with fewer, less militarized police have fewer crimes, then? Is there any body of research that proves that “more police = less crime?”  Or are we doing the “this how I feel, so that means it’s right” thing.

  • WS Res April 27, 2022 (8:25 am)

    If we don’t do this, what else are we going to do?   The rallying cry of premature closure. The question was asked rhetorically, but in fact funding those “other professionals” might be one option. 

  • Adam April 27, 2022 (8:33 am)

    Herbold cutting off further discussion on a critical safety issue to discuss something more politically palatable is just too rich. Couldn’t ask for a better illustration of how we got into this mess. 

    • Saul Notgoodman April 27, 2022 (9:56 am)

      But even that “something more politically palatable” is more politically palatable to whom exactly? Making services from Uber to Instacart far more expensive to everyone, making rentals and housing far more expensive to everyone, wasting billions on grandstanding about the “poor” while helping no one, degrading public safety and protecting the criminals at the expense of all of us – these are the results of the incompetent ideologues in the City Council. Who are they representing exactly? Their agendas have diverged from Seattle brand of liberalism a long time ago and it’s become a contest of who in the City Council can be a bigger Sawant than Sawant. They are representing a shrinking myopic minority.

  • Derek April 27, 2022 (9:08 am)

    I think we need to re-work the police force. We need social workers handling crisis peoples. We need to end homeless sweeps as they waste money and just shuffle a problem around and reinvest that money into more housing. And we need to purge the police force of anyone with violent use of force in their backgrounds.

    • Lauren April 28, 2022 (9:56 am)

      YES, Derek. I’m sure the salary of ~80 police officers could hire a lot of brilliant social workers.

  • KD April 27, 2022 (11:21 am)

    Who is going to run and defeat Herbold? She’s been terrible for West Seattle. We need to start planning to get her out of there. Total failure.  

    • James April 28, 2022 (10:21 am)

      I like her. I would re-elect her. Defunding police is good. 

      • SMDH in Admiral April 28, 2022 (3:13 pm)

        Defunding police is good. ”  Yes, we seem to be living in a crime free utopia since we have let so many police officers leave. A couple hundred more and we could solve world hunger as well.

  • Jort April 27, 2022 (11:32 am)

    I see Sara Nelson is joining other city council members by engaging in performative public virtue signaling. There’s no evidence that these “hiring bonuses” that she so desperately and obsessively focuses on are actually effective. The department isn’t even asking for them! Clearly she is grandstanding and wants to make a name for herself on this one. It’s a bit like Lisa Herbold saying that she cares about reducing traffic deaths, and getting a very furrowed brow about how important it is, but then doing literally nothing meaningful that will reduce traffic deaths. Sara Nelson is also doing this performance, just on another topic. Judging by the hasty “you go get ‘em, Sara” comments I’m seeing thrown about (by people who mostly just hate Lisa Herbold, rather than supporting Sara’s ridiculous, resource-wasting wish-list item), it looks like she’s fooling plenty of people with her performance. “Own the libs” mentality comes to Seattle City Council. Awesome.

  • Mj April 27, 2022 (11:34 am)

    Lisa needs to be shown the exit door! 

    The City has implemented a number of policies such as a higher minimum wage to better allow people working to make ends meet, albeit on a tight budget. 

    It’s past time to make people accountable when they break the law, enough already.

  • KT April 27, 2022 (11:44 am)

    “Nelson … wanted to extend the discussion, but Herbold cut it off, with the item having run more than an hour – twice the allotted time – and with two other items on the agenda, including another hot topic (the PayUp proposal for app-based workers). No votes had been scheduled for today, so the discussion is likely to continue when this committee reconvenes next month.This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the Seattle City Council and their priorities.  

  • Tony April 27, 2022 (12:31 pm)

    We should be spending funds on community support and diversion programs. Any hiring should be focused on police alternatives. Those hires should be easier than police hires. Salaries will be more competitive and the chance to participate in programs that have been proven to be successful in other municipalities should be more alluring than participating in the failed institution of policing. 

    • Lauren April 28, 2022 (12:59 pm)

      100%. The average salary of a Seattle police officer is $103,500. 85 (the number of open positions) x $103,500 = $8,795,500. How else could the city use $8 million?People invented modern policing. We can imagine other solutions that better serve our communities AND police officers.

      • Fire the SCC April 28, 2022 (3:20 pm)

        The SCC has had 2 years to “imagine other solutions” and they have implimented exactley zero alternatives.  All they have managed to do is dismantle public saftey and alienate an entire department of city employees. 

  • alex April 27, 2022 (12:46 pm)

    I still remember Lisa Herbold’s newsletter right after she helped drive out Chief Carmen Best.   She blustered  how it was such a surprise Chief Best would quit.    Of course she quit with Herbold  threatening her with a 40% pay cut.

    • WS Res April 27, 2022 (7:13 pm)

      I mean, it’s also possible she quit when she found she might be implicated in the double scandals of the “accidentally” deleted text messages, and the “whodunit?” investigation of the order to abandon the Cap Hill precinct.  Police notoriously hate to be held accountable.

  • Jay April 27, 2022 (1:37 pm)

    They need to work on reforming the department, cracking down on corruption, and investigating and charging officers for overtime fraud before just throwing money at a hiring drive. Money and bodies isn’t the answer right now.

  • Chris K April 27, 2022 (1:49 pm)

    Crime is down.  We need fewer police officers, not more.

    • ImNotSparticus April 27, 2022 (3:03 pm)

      Or not.  “We’ve had over a 95% increase in more shots fired, with a 171% increase in people being shot compared to last year,” Police Chief Adrian Diaz told our numb City Council recently. “And last year was one of the highest years we’ve had on record.”  Aggravated assaults — which last year were already up 24% — are up another 33% in the first quarter of 2022, as compared to the first three months of 2021. That’s according to preliminary reports posted at the city’s open records portal.  Robberies are up 30% in 2022. Overall, violent crime is up 32% — from 1,051 incidents in the first three months of 2021 to 1,387 this year.

      • K April 27, 2022 (5:38 pm)

        Seattle’s population went up by more than crime did.  Per capita crime is down.

        • Wseattleite April 28, 2022 (8:26 am)

          Per Capita is a bunch of crap. Unbelievable that you would consider it a win for crime to increase as population does. The bold fact hard truth is that there is fast increasing rates of crime in the same given area. That means, in my neighborhood, crime has abundantly flourished and is growing. End of story.  

          • James April 28, 2022 (10:23 am)

            I don’t think you know how crime stats work WSeattelite

          • K April 28, 2022 (4:00 pm)

            Per capita is literally just math.  Math is not the enemy, lol

          • zark00 April 29, 2022 (11:23 am)

            Seattle’s crime rates were twice as high in the 80s and early 90s compared to now, but that’s only according to elitists who use math. All you need to believe that Seattle is dying again is to ignore how much the population has exponentially boomed since then, not know what “per capita” means and generally accuse anyone’s who’s accurately answered a math equation in the last five years of being a witch.There were 1,500 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 1990 compared to 721 in 2021. So just take away history and context and voila! The crime rate increased from an average of 657 in 2018 to 721 last year.

      • Lauren April 28, 2022 (12:19 pm)

        Here’s a 5-year graph of crime in Seattle. As you can see, pretty consistent. (Source: Crime Dashboard – Police | And much, MUCH lower than it was 20 years ago (Source: Is Seattle ‘dying’? Crime rates tell a different story | The Seattle Times)

    • Saul Notgoodman April 27, 2022 (4:29 pm)

      “Crime is down”??? Have you slept through the last 3 years? I don’t understand what Pollyannas like you are trying to achieve. Who do you think you are helping with this?

      • zark00 April 29, 2022 (11:29 am)

        The numbers are there for you to review just like they are for everyone else. You may not understand them, but that doesn’t make them cease to exist. Violent crime per capita is down, that is simply a fact. Your personal observations and the reports you watch on KOMO don’t change the facts of the situation. 

    • Jm April 27, 2022 (4:49 pm)

      @chris  you must not read, listen or you live in a magical bubble somewhere that’s not the streets of Seattle.

    • Anonymous Coward April 28, 2022 (7:05 am)

      That’s why every visitor to Seattle goes home thinking how to make their city more like Seattle, right?  If only my city had Seattle levels of petty theft and graffiti and litter and gunfire and drug use and…

  • Lagartija Nick April 27, 2022 (5:30 pm)

    Can any of the angry blowhards here point to a bill, any bill, that was sponsored by Herbold and passed by the council that actually defunded the police department? No? I thought not. Defunding NEVER happened.

    • Wseattlite April 28, 2022 (8:27 am)

      Her voting record says otherwise Nick. 

      • Lagartija Nick April 29, 2022 (11:11 am)

        Then what are the names, numbers and dates those bills passed? You should easily be able to list them if what you say is true.

  • Lagartija Nick April 27, 2022 (8:17 pm)

    Also, judging from the comments here Herbold is Schroedinger’s council member, she single handedly destroyed the city and SPD while simultaneously being so ineffectual she couldn’t pass a single law to help any of her constituents. You guys are a hoot.

    • James April 28, 2022 (10:22 am)

      Exactly. They just kind of parrot KOMO talking points without realizing what they’re saying. Ah the life of blog commenters. Rooted in an alternate reality at times it seems.

      • Jm April 28, 2022 (5:09 pm)

        How about you drive around West Seattle and count all the windows boarded up or covered due to being smashed in (some repeatedly), go talk to a few employees of stores like the junction QFC, Bartells or pretty much any store in WW Village about the prolific and brazen daily shoplifting, talk to the people who have had their cc sawed out (some more than once), talk to the people who have had their cars stolen, their work tools stolen you want me and my blow hard bs to go on? Or am I talking about these being “ crimes of poverty” and so they don’t really count! Every single person I know who has been compassionate and has supported alternatives to jail are simply damn tired of the crime that DOES impact us in real ways. 

        • zark00 April 29, 2022 (11:36 am)

          Did  you just move here or something? Welcome to West Seattle – none of this is new except maybe the stores allowing shoplifting – which might be stupid, but has zero impact on you.

Sorry, comment time is over.