SEATTLE POLICE STAFFING: ‘Unprecedented separation numbers’ continue, though Southwest Precinct rebounds

Tomorrow at 9:30 am, the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, chaired by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, gets its quarterly report on Seattle Police staffing. “Unprecedented separation numbers have continued into 2022,” the presentation prepared for the meeting notes. Through the first half of the year, SPD had lost 109 more officers, and hired 30. The number of departures is close to the 125 originally projected for the entire year.

When the first-quarter report was presented in April, we reported here that Southwest Precinct sworn-staffing numbers had dropped more than any other precinct. The second-quarter report shows the precinct – which covers West Seattle and South Park – has regained what it had lost since last year.

As of the end of June, the new report shows, SW officers and sergeants totaled 65 sworn staff, up from 58 at the end of the first quarter. 65 is the number the precinct had at the end of 2021’s first quarter. Citywide, though, precincts’ total staff has dropped again, from 545 citywide at the end of the first quarter to 539 at the end of the second quarter. That’s more than 20 percent down from two years ago, when precinct staffing citywide totaled 677.

Departures have cost the department monetarily too – the documents for tomorrow’s briefing say that halfway through the year, SPD had spent two-thirds of the year’s budget for separation pay.

The meeting documents also cover some other SPD stats, such as response times dating back to 2019. The presentation notes that “median values [half sooner, half later] are the same or better everywhere except the Southwest Precinct.” One example – median response teams for Priority 1 calls – the most serious crime/life-safety issues – have gone up here from six and a half minutes in 2019 to eight and a half minutes now. (Seven minutes is what SPD is supposed to be aiming for.)

You can watch the presentation/discussion – and/or comment on the meeting – at 9:30 am tomorrow, The agenda explains how; the livestream will be on Seattle Channel.

48 Replies to "SEATTLE POLICE STAFFING: 'Unprecedented separation numbers' continue, though Southwest Precinct rebounds"

  • Question Authority August 8, 2022 (6:23 pm)

    I honestly wonder if Herbold just grins when she sees the ranks dwindling as her progressive agenda plays out.   An increase in crime and dysfunction is not what I consider progress.  See what I did there.

    • Matt August 8, 2022 (8:16 pm)

      “The second-quarter report shows the precinct – which covers West Seattle and South Park – has regained what it had lost since last year.”

      She’s grinning even though the numbers are going up in her district? Maybe you should thank Herbold for getting the numbers back up. If you can’t give her credit for that then she can’t be blamed for “dwindling numbers” either.

    • Jort August 8, 2022 (8:31 pm)

      Do you mean she’s “grinning” when she helps increase funding for police hiring? Or, what? How actually evil do you seriously think Lisa Herbold is? Is Fox News-style misinformation now the way people form their views about council members?

      • Better DTJ August 8, 2022 (9:50 pm)

        Herbold was one of the people leading the anti-cop pack for almost 2 years running.  Just because she reluctantly laid her hand on the most recent tepid attempt to lure cops back onto the force doesn’t mean squat.  Maybe you should stick to whinging about cars.

    • Nate Garcia August 9, 2022 (5:13 pm)

      I am amazed the WSB allowed you to post that. 

  • Paul August 8, 2022 (7:03 pm)

    This is overly unacceptable and Herbold is untrustworthy and to blame.  My office park in South Park has had a huge increase in crime which is something that is new in the last year.  City council created this problem.  Remember this when it comes time to vote.  

  • Nate H. August 8, 2022 (7:04 pm)

    This is 100% on the city council’s head.  They are _directly_ responsible for this.  Do they care?  No.  Do they show remorse or contrition, or admit their mistakes?  No.  Do they show any sign at all of reconsidering or walking back their anti-cop positions for the good of the communities they pretend to serve?  No.   For Shame.

    • Jort August 8, 2022 (8:10 pm)

      Why are you lying?  Herbold increased pay for police hiring incentives just this year. Like, literally a few months ago. What is with this caricature joke of a portrait people online are painting of her and other members of this council? It’s dishonest and gross.

      • Question Authority August 8, 2022 (10:01 pm)

        Her detractors aren’t talking about her recent change of face, more her rampant distrust and overt dislike of Law Enforcement.  Are you new here, or did you not pay attention to her policies and mantra from just a few years ago?

      • DAV August 9, 2022 (12:26 am)

        Lisa Herbold is wishy-washy and flips her opinion and her stances just to say whatever she thinks the winning group supports (first it was defund the police, then she changed it to fund).  she’s made comments and leaning both ways. She never made statements saying her initial view was wrong, so her redirection is because she’s flighty and feeble, and is not helping West Seattle thrive.

        • Jort August 9, 2022 (8:05 am)

          I will not disagree that she is flighty and feeble, there is no doubt of that; it’s a hallmark of her aproach to the job. But I will disagree that she is currently, actively “anti-cop,” as is alleged in the above comment. She has reversed her position. She hasn’t begged for forgiveness on her knees, prostrate, in front of Mike Solan (and she never will or should), but she has decided to up the funding for police. To imply that she’s an actively  intransigent cop hater is a flat out dishonest lie propogated by Fox News-type bad actors.

      • Scubafrog August 9, 2022 (1:38 am)

        It’s sad how some of Herbold’s supporters will bold-faced lie about the historical facts of her tenure.  Her policies have directly led to much violence and murder, and so much crime in the last 2 years.  If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear:  We need a fully-staffed police department, at all times.  “Progressives” have torn Seattle asunder with their idea of ‘social justice’, and have taken Seattle back decades.  Hopefully Seattle learns from its mistakes, and takes a more moderate approach per the candidates it chooses.  Political extremes are dangerous.

      • Carl August 9, 2022 (1:28 pm)

        Herbold was pro police when running for office.  I voted for her. After getting elected her decisions as a council member have been against police.  It would be nice to vote for a candidate to have a backbone and stand on ghe same platform she was elected on instead of floundering.  Seattle deserves safety, not Herbold’s “leadership”.

      • Kram August 9, 2022 (1:34 pm)

        Jort; I think you are missing the part when Lisa Herbold had the opposite view: think a lot of the ‘anti Herbold’ stuff in these comments are related to what is perceived as bad leadership. People wanted to defund the police so she jumped on that. Now people want more police and police funding so she jumps on that. It’s okay to criticize Lisa Herbold when she doesn’t have consistent messaging. 

        • Jort August 9, 2022 (7:38 pm)

          You are absolutely correct! Lisa absolutely moves whichever way the wind is blowing; it’s her signature move. I am specifically countering the above-mentioned argument that Lisa has not shown “any sign at all of reconsidering or walking back” her “anti-cop positions.” That is patently untrue, 100 percent demonstrably false. She’s spouted defunding and refunding positions. Currently she is in a “refunding” phase. To imply that she is still “pro-defunding” is a flat out untruth and must be countered with facts and not propaganda out of the right-wing message boards of lies.

  • K August 8, 2022 (7:05 pm)

    Are there any industries that aren’t seeing record rates of turnover, and having difficulty hiring people?  I think these numbers would be more meaningful if they were viewed in context of overall labor trends.  

    • Question Authority August 8, 2022 (7:20 pm)

      Really!   You attempt to link those who serve people in a restaurant or serve people at a warehouse counter with serving and protecting the citizens at large against dangerous situations?   Quite the reach there when it comes to putting your life on the line for the good of public safety versus a tip or a thank you.

    • Wendell August 8, 2022 (7:41 pm)

      Policing isn’t an industry that adheres to labor trends. The only industry that is thriving and trending is crime. Policing is public service, that should be appreciated no matter where we sit in the political spectrum.

      • zark00 August 9, 2022 (4:09 pm)

        This is very much incorrect.  You clearly made this up without even bothering to check.  Hiring officers is 100% impacted by the current job market.  Literally all of the articles about this topic state exactly the opposite of what you said.  Would have taken you less than 30 seconds to google this. 

    • flimflam August 8, 2022 (7:57 pm)

      Seattles police force has been understaffed for years, that isn’t new. It’s way worse now, but not a new problem.

      • Jort August 8, 2022 (8:18 pm)

        Not once in the 100+ year history of the Seattle Police Department has a spokesperson ever said that the department was “fully-staffed.”  It leaves the rest of us to wonder what sliding scale constitutes a real crisis or another attempt to get more money carved out of the city budget. 

        • Question Authority August 8, 2022 (8:25 pm)

          Population growth outpaced staffing forecasts, that hopefully easy to understand.

        • Anne August 8, 2022 (8:32 pm)

          Are you serious?

          • Jort August 8, 2022 (9:54 pm)

            Yes. Police have for years cried (presumably, wolf) about staffing, partly because there’s scarcely a problem a city faces that a police department won’t think it can solve with more officers. They’ve played this game for years. Elected officials usually play along. Remarkably, they’ve convinced a great deal of the public that “more officers” will solve all their problems. There were about, what, 400 fully-armed and ready officers at the Uvalde elementary school, standing by doing nothing as children and teachers inside were massacred. How many more did they need? What if we hired 500 more to stand around and do nothing? Or, here in Seattle, do we need to have more police available to guide traffic in and out of parking garages downtown? Or maybe to choose not respond to sexual assault cases? Or to decide they don’t like doing their jobs anymore and abandon neighborhood precincts because they’re too thin-skinned to hear criticism? Or, maybe to tell people to get off a public beach at sundown? Or to stand by and watch traffic violence climb to higher and higher levels of death and injury? Or join insurrection movements against our democracy?! Yeah. I think the police deserve some scrutiny for the jobs they’re choosing not to do in the first place. I think all of us would be smart to do the same, too. What on earth do we think requires us to give automatic, unyielding and unquestioning support of police officers?! Didn’t any of you watch a 1970s or 1980s movie with police in them? Remember how they used to be a joke? A punchline? They still are! 

          • Alki resident August 9, 2022 (9:16 pm)

            Joey what a disgusting response. You clearly have zero respect for our police. 

          • Anne August 11, 2022 (11:46 am)

            I’m so glad I’m not as miserable as you & I’ve got COVID!  As wife & granddaughter of career police officers -they were not ever -a joke. The same goes for current LEO . 

          • zark00 August 9, 2022 (4:23 pm)

            Yeah Jort’s right – If you’re new to the area, welcome! It’s still great here even with our terrible police force.   Seattle has notoriously always had staffing problems. Sometimes not too bad, sometimes it’s a ‘crisis’.  2022, because of huge population growth from the 90’s until now, is why they’re saying it’s now a crisis.  It’s just par for the course around here.  SPD is kind of a mess – from the FBI investigation back in the 90’s for excessive force against minorities, to the officers who had to quit in shame after they popped up on Jan 6th videos.  

        • Carl August 9, 2022 (1:30 pm)

          We have fewer police than we did in 1990 despite a massive increase in crime and population.  Stop looking at sliding scales and start counting dead bodies and unresolved crimes.

          • Jort August 9, 2022 (7:34 pm)

            If you’re going to count “dead bodies” and “unresolved crimes” especially in comparison to the 1990s and think things are worse now, you are in for a big, big surprise. 

        • Seattlite August 9, 2022 (2:43 pm)

          As of Jan. 10, while there are 948 officers on the force, that number includes recruits not yet sworn (36), students in field training (25), and unavailable officers (between 123 and 187).The number of deployable sworn Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) members is 880. City officials have previously said the SPD should be at 1,500-1,600, minimum.’The current state of Seattle police staffing is off the charts dangerous for our community,’ President Mike Solan…”  Excerpt from the is article: “Seattle Police Shed An Astonishing Number of Officers in 2021, More Expected Soon.”

    • 1994 August 8, 2022 (9:40 pm)

      School districts are having a difficult time hiring teachers. I heard on NPR a teacher say they are just tired of the disrespect from students AND parents! They have bailed because they can’t take it any more. Probably the same situation for police. The social contract of having good behavior in public, or private, has gone down the toilet.

  • Rhonda August 8, 2022 (7:22 pm)

    Come to the Bellevue PD. We get 100% support, excellent working conditions, pay, benefits, low crime, wonderful community, etc. 

    • Scubafrog August 8, 2022 (9:53 pm)

      You said it, a world class Department.  

    • Incredulous August 11, 2022 (11:56 am)

      LOL Oh yes! Bellevue. Where many rich people live in a part of the region that has a significantly lower poverty rate. Where police never even have to “deal with” large groups of the unwanted poor and afflicted. No doubt it’s a great place to be a cop! Y’all could probably give them pay cuts and still retain them. They don’t have nearly as many of those nasty human and common social ills that come with “the struggle”. That’s not world class policing in my book… Also, in all my years here having a handful of issues, the cops have been utterly useless every time. They don’t stop crime. They follow up on crimes committed. My most recent experience was about eight years ago when my car was being broken into as I walked up and I saw the person clearly, like 100% face to face, (he even apologized). I called the police they came, like five or six cars worth, they had a K9 and got a description from me and my friend and just a few minutes later they asked me and my friend to come identify someone they found. They drove me and a friend who also saw the person a couple miles away. They had found a person but he was not even close to the description! They surrounded him and his girlfriend and their dog. Just two innocent people out walking their dog! Again, not even close to the description I gave. My friend and I both emphatically said NO! That is not the person! That cop asked us over and over if we were sure. Yes. We were sure. It was disgusting and very enlightening. To this day I don’t know if they lied to those innocent people and took that man away anyway. They seemed to eager to just grab anyone even if they didn’t fit the description. It was really gross. There is a real problem in Seattle with unjust policing and anyone who has experienced it will never forget. I won’t ever call the police for their “help” again. That’s not help, that’s not policing. That’s something else. 

  • M August 8, 2022 (7:32 pm)

    I’d be interested to see their clearance rates as part of this information, but I think most PDs keep that quiet as possible for very obvious reasons!

    • Sillygoose August 9, 2022 (3:26 pm)

      How absolutely absurd! Herbold and the other city council sheep actively for months campaigned at every turn to defund Seattle Police. City Council demoralized tge officers to the point of transferring, retiring or flat out quit!  Now that the city has turned into a lawless dangerous city she it touting how she will build the department up again!  Herbold is a sociopath that cares about nothing but herself.  Time to put this city council out on the streets and vote in educated, mature, Seattle loving representatives. 

  • TJ August 8, 2022 (8:21 pm)

    That’s a lazy conclusion K. My friend I just had dinner with is a longshoreman and they aren’t understaffed. And as far as police departments go, Bellevue’s force is staffed great. In fact, they have had a lot of lateral moves with officers from Seattle. This city is reaping what is sowed. The council is a major contributor to this, but they are a reflection of the voters who voted them in. People know what they want. And they get voted in

    • Scubafrog August 8, 2022 (9:39 pm)

      Until Herbold signs legislation that adds new SPD Officers, we’re going to keep losing Officers.  Even Harrell’s known for seeking ‘other’ methods of policing, he’s certainly no hawk.  Herbold is anti-police.  Her words and actions have proven that.  I don’t think Herbold’s inherently evil, her politics certainly don’t align with citizen safety.  Her policies have directly led to every  manner of violent crime inflicted on Seattleites by way of destroying the SPD, her supporters are liars if they suggest otherwise (as is herbold).    2021 and 2022 have been terrible years  by way of violence in Seattle.   

  • onion August 8, 2022 (8:31 pm)

    The city of Seattle and is police department have been operating under a federal consent decree that was implemented due to oppressive and racist tactics since 2012. To say the police union has resisted reform is an understatement. Coupled with the radicals on the city council we, the citizens of Seattle, are getting stiffed from both sides.  We need both a radical refresh of the council and to break the grip of the union and is leader, Mike Solon. Only when those two things happen will we be able to rebuild our police force and its relationship to the people of Seattle. 

    • Jw August 8, 2022 (10:46 pm)


  • LJK August 8, 2022 (8:58 pm)

    This is extremely non-surprising to me. Policing is a different job than it was 5 years ago, and a different job than it will be in 2025 or 2030. Washington State has seen substantial changes in police liability law in the past few years, with changes to the risk of civil suit, discipline, or criminal conviction for officers who use force. Most of us voted for those changes. For me the question is: Given all that, and given the overall employment market, is the job still appealing to the right candidates? Can we maintain adequate staffing numbers with the wage, benefit, risk, and reward package that we offer? And if not, what will it take? I mean, it’s a question, but it’s not like, insurmountable or existential. It’s kind of a normal employment thing. 

    • Socialcontract August 8, 2022 (10:12 pm)

      Agreed. Look at it like a business problem. At some price we’ll have full staffing with the right kind of people. We’ve all contributed to this work environment so if we want more police we just have to pay for it.

    • WS Guy August 8, 2022 (10:27 pm)

      In order:  No.  No.  A city leadership that supports rather than vilifies law enforcement and stops coddling criminals.

      Recruiting bonuses to offset the hostile environment they created will bring in mercenaries instead of dedicated police servants.  It will take major turnover on the council and years of support to reverse the damage.

  • Seattlite August 8, 2022 (9:35 pm)

    The “separations” have been going on for at least two years.   Policies make or break law enforcement.  It is obvious the affect that policies are having on SPD.

  • Thanks Officers In Public August 9, 2022 (7:41 am)

    Herbold will never receive another vote from me, period. In fact, my vote will go to anyone that runs other than Herbold. Oh, and here’s a winning message for ‘progressives’ on policing; issues with policing are local and cannot be painted with a broad brush coast-to-coast. For every voter you pick up in a place that has terrible policing (racism, classism, power tripping, asset forfeiture abuses, etc.) you lose a voter in places where those things are NOT happening and yet still their police forces are having their budgets cut, and resources diverted. One size does not fit all. I support SPD because of all the other cities I have lived and visited, they are the most respectful to their citizens, by a longshot. Not perfect mind you, but no police force ever can, or will be, ‘perfect’ as perfection is not humanly possible.

  • Sasquatch August 9, 2022 (8:24 am)

    Good news for us here in West Seattle :-). Love our local cops. This national trend can be fought with incentives like money for down payment on a house in our community, retention bonuses, establishing mental health crisis team to reduce stress on officers…

  • Mark47n August 9, 2022 (9:01 am)

    Many cops split after they were being required, like all others, to be vaccinated. Also, after the riots a few years ago, another chunk left. These left a large hole to plug.There are a lot of comments about how Seattle doesn’t support the cops….but no one really says what that support looks like. Those selfsame commenters also gloss over the issues that Seattle has had with police brutality. Enough serious incidents that there was intervention on a federal level what, a decade ago and that oversight is still in effect because Seattle’s police and their union refuse to reform their policies and practices to comply.Cops aren’t infallible. They receive a large degree of immunity, and I understand why and don’t object…to a degree, but often this immunity is abused to shield them from clear abuse and violations of the departmental standard regarding the use of force, or even a simple investigation of these acts.So, now that I’ve said, this, let me say what I want. I want policing that is effective, is responsible, has oversight, and is able to weed out those so called “bad apples” that are vigorously defended by their union’s to the point that it damages the entire reputation of a police department and the profession.Last: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but I would truly hate to represent you lot in the city council. You allow no room to change your mind and you’re as cold as Seattle’s reputation. I harbor no feeling for Herbold, myself, but her willingness to tolerate the rudeness and disdain that you so freely and publicly profess is a credit to her and not to you.     

  • Ivan Weiss August 9, 2022 (11:06 am)

    “Honey, do we have all the food in the car?”

    “Sure, dear, I’ll round up the kids. They have been looking forward to this picnic all week.”

    “Oh, no, it’s starting to rain. It’s coming down pretty heavy.”

    “Drat, no picnic today. Sorry, kids.”

    “That darn Lisa Herbold. This is all her fault.”

    This is the level that some of these comments have sunk to, and the people who keep repeating them seem to be doing so almost in a ritual of self-reinforcement, like the Hare Krishnas who used to chant at the airport. They might sputter in impotent rage to read this, but they aren’t fooling anybody.

Sorry, comment time is over.