Seattle’s police union president is slamming the mayor’s plan to offer $25,000 hiring bonuses to staff up the depleted force after an exodus of law enforcement has been spurred by the ‘defund’ movement and the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Democrat who is not seeking re-election on Tuesday when voters in the Emerald City go to the polls to elect her successor, issued an executive order Friday offering incentives for 911 dispatchers and police.
But the union representing 1,300 police officers and sergeants said the move is too little, too late, particularly after Durkan sided with demands from activists and city lawmakers to defund the police.
Officers recently protested the vaccine mandate by displaying the ‘don’t tread on me’ flags often seen as pro-Second Amendment rallies.
The police union head accused Durkan of ‘politically betraying’ the police force by siding with those who called to defund the department after the death of George Floyd last year.
‘The result of this betrayal has caused 350 police officers to flee Seattle since the riots,’ Mike Solan said.
‘Many of these former police employees left for lower paying agencies just to escape Seattle’s toxic political climate.’
‘We also have another 100 officers now off the street due to the Mayor’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate and another 130 officers currently unavailable for service who are out on extended leave,’ Solan said in a statement.
‘When totaled, that is just under half the department gone/unavailable in almost two years.
‘Seattle’s current police staffing crisis was caused by our current politicians and sadly it all could’ve been avoided.
‘This political betrayal will forever be their legacy.’
Seattle’s police union president, Mike Solan (left), panned lame duck Mayor Jenny Durkan’s (right) plan to offer $25,000 hiring bonuses to 911 dispatchers and police.
Seattle police officers opposed to a city vaccine mandate that took effect on October 18 hung yellow ‘Don’t tread on me’ Gadsden flags on their police cruisers
The number of officers to leave Seattle Police Department has been in free fall since last year
The Seattle City Council voted to defund the police budget by roughly 17 percent in 2021.
Activists applauded the decision but Durkan has cautioned against additional cuts to police funding.
Police officers were particularly incensed by Durkan’s handling of the so-called ‘CHOP/CHAZ’ – the ‘autonomous zone’ set up by Black Lives Matter protesters after the ransacking of one of the Seattle Police Department’s precincts downtown.
The mayor referred to the events of last year as a ‘summer of love’ – a comment that did not sit well with police officers who felt under siege from the prevailing political climate.
The autonomous zone was eventually cleared after a series of shootings in the area.
Last month, some Seattle police officers hanged the ‘don’t tread on me’ Gadsden flags from their cruisers to protest the citywide vaccine mandate that took effec on October 18.
Seattle’s ordinance – which aligns with county- and state-wide mandates also taking effect October 18 – requires all city employees to show proof of inoculation or risk losing their jobs.
Police officers were particularly incensed by Durkan’s handling of the so-called ‘CHOP/CHAZ’ – the ‘autonomous zone’ set up by Black Lives Matter protesters after the ransacking of one of the Seattle Police Department’s precincts downtown last year
Then-Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best held a press conference outside of the department’s vacated East Precinct in the area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) on June 29, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. ‘Enough is enough,’ she said
As of the deadline, just 24 – or two percent – of Seattle Police Department officers had not shown proof of inoculation, a city spokesperson told Dailymail.com.
Meanwhile, Seattle police spokesperson Sgt. Randy Huserik said officers who don’t turn in their vaccine verification paperwork by midnight October 18 will likely ‘be terminated.’
Durkan’s ‘civil emergency order’ acknowledges ‘emergent staffing shortages’ affecting the Seattle Police Department.
The order states that the city is ‘experiencing a year-to-date 35 percent increase’ in shots fired incidents and a 76 percent jump in shots fired incidents compared to 2019.
There has also been a 29 percent increase in the number of non-fatal shootings this year compared to last year, according to the mayor.
According to the mayor, the SPD’s current level of deployable police officers stands at 1,015 – down from 1,325 in 2019.
She said the staffing shortages have caused response times to increase.
The staffing shortage is so acute that the SPD is sending detectives and non-patrol officers to respond to emergency calls.
The police union leader said he fears things will get worse because of COVID-19 vaccine mandates but the city’s mayor urged the small percentage of holdouts to get the shot, noting officers are already required to show proof of other vaccines.
KOMO reports the department has lost more than 300 officers over the past year. Nearly 300 more could face termination if they do not comply with an October 18 deadline to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
‘We can’t afford to lose one, that’s how desperate we are to hold onto to people,’ said Solan.
‘If we lose more officers, the public safety situation will become that much more untenable here.’
Crime has been rising in Seattle this year with 33,695 crimes already occurred this year compared to only 30,816 crimes at the same time last year. Although 2019 had elevated crime rates, 2021 has surpassed it
Seattle’s homicide rate seems to be reaching the total of homicides in 2020, with four months left before the end of the year
According to figures from the Seattle mayor’s office, 782 officers have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination, while 98 officers are seeking exemptions and 186 have not turned in paperwork.
Rebuilding Seattle’s police force won’t be Durkan’s problem. Instead, it will be left to either Bruce Harrell or Lorena Gonzalez, the two mayoral candidates.
The union president said he ‘would like to suggest to our current and soon to be newly elected politicians that if you want to hire new and lateral police officers, we suggest you also take care of your current officers.’
‘These officers worked during the pandemic, are feeling the impacts of dangerous staffing levels and are without a union contract.
‘SPOG is looking forward to working with our new mayor and the current/new city council members to remedy our city’s issues.
‘Seattle deserves public safety, and is worth saving.’