POLICE STAFFING: Southwest Precinct rebounds from last year’s low, and response times speed up

Tomorrow morning, the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee gets its latest periodic briefing on Seattle Police staffing. Here’s what we learned from the briefing presentation, which was posted today:

The Southwest Precinct (West Seattle and South Park) ended the first quarter with 54 officers and 10 sergeants. That’s up from 50 and 8 a year earlier, one fewer than the 56 and 9 from a year before that. (Those two charts were shown here.) Overall, the entire department ended the quarter with 1,029 fully trained officers, and 949 in service; SPD had projected it would make 31 hires during the first quarter and actually hired 26, while they projected 27 more officers would leave, and separations totaled 28. They’re now expecting the year will end with 33 officers fewer than they have budgeted for, and they expect that money will instead have to be spent on overtime, 80 percent of which SPD says goes toward meeting minimum staffing levels. Meantime, most of the $3.8 million budget for recruiting and retention has remained unspent; the meeting presentation attributes this mostly to the mayor’s office working on a “new marketing plan.”

Other numbers of interest in the presentation slide deck include response times. For the Southwest and West Precincts, they improved in all categories, though other precincts saw response times increase in some categories. For Southwest, the average response time for a “Priority 1” call is now 10 minutes, a full minute faster than a year earlier, though still well above the department’s 7-minute goal. Average response times for “Priority 2” calls in the SW Precinct fell from 44 to 41 minutes.

Tomorrow’s meeting is at 9:30 am, at City Hall and online; you can see the full agenda, and commenting info, here.

21 Replies to "POLICE STAFFING: Southwest Precinct rebounds from last year's low, and response times speed up"

  • Rhonda May 22, 2023 (5:45 pm)

    That’s a relief and VERY good news.

  • John May 22, 2023 (6:45 pm)

    Great news!  The more officers the better.  Now let’s increase the number of prisons in Washington State.  I’m tired of seeing the bad guy let go.

    • East Coast Cynic May 22, 2023 (7:05 pm)

      To increase the prisons in Washington State, you’d have to decrease the NIMBYism:).  We were just shot down in an effort to build a new airport due to NIMBYism, so building new prisons will be as big if not a bigger lift in finding communities that will accept them.  Gotta protect the sacred green spaces:).

      • Amy May 22, 2023 (7:49 pm)

        Can you please point me to that report that shows incarceration decreases crime.

        • Dad May 22, 2023 (9:31 pm)

          Since you were replying to about policing, here is one discussion about the relationship between increased policing (arrests) and reduced occurrence of crime:https://www.nber.org/digest/jan03/what-reduced-crime-new-york-cityThis was during the somewhat controversial but effective Guiliani era.  Prior to the unhinged behavior and hair dye running down his face.Malcolm Gladwell also discusses similar data in one of his books.  Will need to dig for that.

        • TM7302 May 22, 2023 (9:31 pm)

          If they are in prison, then they are not in the community committing crimes.  Prison is more than incarceration, there’s a punishment aspect to it as well.  Interesting how that works.

          • CAM May 23, 2023 (6:36 am)

            Not caring about the impacts of prison only works if you don’t care about the human beings we put there, which includes the employees, and don’t care about what happens with those human beings when they leave that environment and return to your neighborhood. It’s shortsighted and a bandaid but does nothing to reduce the rate of crime or to prevent future crime. 

          • WS Res May 23, 2023 (9:29 am)

            But when they get out, which most people will, imprisonment increases pressures to reoffend. Having lost their job (if they had one), their housing (if they had any), being on the hook for fines and fees levied as part of their sentence, being cut off from whatever medical and behavioral care (such as it is) they were receiving in prison (and thus from needed medications, 12-step meetings, support groups, therapy, etc. if they had it), and then often being dumped near public transit in the middle of the night with no possessions or money, what’s their options for immediately meeting their food & shelter needs?  Often it’s immediately committing another crime.

        • Rhonda May 23, 2023 (1:26 am)

          Never in history has an innocent civilian been slaughtered by an incarcerated murderer. If you can post an exception to that, I’d love to hear it. So, yes, incarceration reduces crime while criminals are behind bars.

          • heartless May 23, 2023 (9:31 am)

            “Never in history has an innocent civilian been slaughtered by an incarcerated murderer.”

            Oh, sweet summer child–innocent civilians have been killed by the electric chair, stabbed to death in their cells, and have committed suicide to avoid prison violence.  How can anyone not know this?

            But besides that, Rhonda, I think you are taking a very simplistic view of the world.  When you
            say incarceration reduces crime while criminals are behind bars (an already very specific claim!), you are ignoring three important points: 

            1) Lots of bad things happen behind bars.  Are you really so naive to think that there is no crime in prison?  Or do you just not care about prison rape and other forms of violence?

            2) Think about the larger picture–someone (generally a male, often a father, often the primary provider for a family) goes to jail.  Are you really so blind that you can’t see how that might result in more crime in society at large?  A child without a father, a family suddenly without income?  Don’t you see how these factors might increase crime in a society? 

            3) In your claim you’re careful to add that it reduces crime “while criminals are behind bars.”  And when they get out? You know the answer to that.  So what are you going to suggest, keep people in prison forever?  Aren’t you one of those people constantly railing against taxes?  Prison is expensive–and not only
            that, it’s money that could be spent on programs that actually–ie, fact-based, data-driven, no arguing about it–reduce crime. 

  • Flo B May 22, 2023 (8:41 pm)

    Can you please point me to a report that shows not incarcerating decreases crime.

  • West Seattle Resident May 23, 2023 (8:45 am)

    Thank you for the update! It’s good to see numbers trending up!

  • KT May 23, 2023 (11:47 am)

    …” most of the $3.8 million budget for recruiting and retention has remained unspent; the meeting presentation attributes this mostly to the mayor’s office working on a “new marketing plan.”  Amazing.  Another plan being worked on by the Mayor’s Office.  Do any if these plans ever come to an end?  Shouldn’t SPD be working on this?  Think about it – 54 police officers in West Seattle and South Park to cover three shifts every day (don’t forget days off) – four more than a year ago but 2 less than two years ago.  I don’t know how anyone can think that is good news.  Ten minutes to respond to “Priority 1” 911 calls.  The most urgent of 911 calls.  Wow.        

    • Peter S. May 23, 2023 (4:04 pm)

      As has been previously pointed out, the problem at this point isn’t funding.  It’s finding enough qualified applicants, successfully getting them through the training process, and deployment.  Marketing plan?  How about starting by convincing prospective applicants that it’s a desirable and rewarding place to work?  

      Many of your customers (the public) seemingly detest you, and that’s when they aren’t being outright abusive or obstructive.  Every customer interaction detail recorded and possibly scrutinized (justified, but only to a point).  Split-second decisions under pressure can cost lives.  Your bosses (Mayor, Police Chief) can’t always be counted on to publicly support you even if you’ve done nothing wrong.  City Council only cares about political optics.  And, all that’s without  counting the comparatively high possibility of being shot at, injured, or worse.   Hostile working environment?  Check.

      Nobody wants an abusive or corrupt policing department.  Want enough good, fair, honest, and equitable officers?  Make it a good place to be one.

  • N May 23, 2023 (4:24 pm)

    The police union is 2 years over due in coming to agreement on a contract. Would you take a new job with out a contract? When someone is arrested and go to court there is the opportunity for that person to then be sentence to detox and ongoing addiction treatment via drug court, therapy and medication via mental health court, social work intervention via veteran’s court. By not fully staffing a police force who can then arrest and start this process people are denied access to the intervention they need to be a healthier and more productive member of society. 

  • Odd son May 23, 2023 (6:37 pm)

    Even if we get staffing levels to where they were 3 years ago, the population has grown during that time. Also, cops were not addressing the low level crimes 3 years ago and further in the past. It’s good to have goals but imo if we reach the goal, were still going to be in a bad place.

  • Mele Luau May 24, 2023 (7:16 pm)

    Thank you for the update on the Southwest Precinct police staffing situation. It‘s great to know that the response times have sped up and that the precinct is rebounding. We can all hope that the situation will only continue to improve so that our community can remain safe.

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