TACOMA - While Seattle is defunding its police department, other local law enforcement agencies are looking to build their staff.
Pierce County officials announced they are lifting a COVID-19 hiring freeze to add about two dozen deputies to the sheriff’s department.
Officials say the current situation -- the potential layoffs of up to 100 Seattle police officers -- provides a unique opportunity to hire experienced deputies.
“While other places look to defund police, in Pierce County we are looking for ways to improve public safety,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor agrees.
“I am grateful that we have the opportunity to hire deputies who wish to join us from other agencies. This will help us provide additional staffing and better service to Pierce County communities as well as additional opportunities to more closely link with the people we serve,” said Pastor.
While some say these additions are long-awaited and much-needed, activists in Pierce County fighting for police reform question this decision.
“We’re not getting what we’ve been asking for; we’re actually getting the exact opposite,” said Ashlyn Thomas.
Thomas is a member of the New Generation 2.0, a Pierce County organization working toward police reform, including defunding.
She says if these positions have been vacant for months, why not invest the dollars into a different part of the community?
“We don’t want them. We didn’t want them. We didn’t ask for them. This was budgeted before, and it was used, our money, our taxes dollars are used to budget for this sheriff, police and we don’t want them. We’d rather our dollars go somewhere else,” she said.