Seattle City Council approves ordinance for $650K for police recruiting

The Seattle City Council has passed an ordinance that would authorize the city to reallocate funds for departments to hire, particularly when it comes to the Seattle Police Department. 

The ordinance authorizes $650,000 for the Seattle Police Department to pay for relocation assistance for police hires and add another recruiter, and for SPD to spend $350,000 on recruitment advertising and to assist with the search for the next police chief.

It wasn't immediately clear when the ordinance would go into effect. 

On May 9, mayor Bruce Harrell and Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Sara Nelson announced a "unified approach" in the next steps in their efforts to pass legislation that would allow hiring incentives for Seattle police officers.

During that announcement, there were no discussions of particulars for hiring or retention incentives. 

Since January 2020, 401 officers (nearly 30% of sworn officers on the force), have separated from the department. Since then, the department has hired 145 officers, resulting in a net loss of 256 officers.  So far in 2022, 44 officers have left and only 13 have been hired.

The city no longer offers a hiring bonus and never offered a retention bonus, the opposite of what neighboring cities and King County are doing.

"Most cities, if not all cities in our region, do have this, and it’s been said we need to level the playing field for offering our officers this. Otherwise, we are going to lose them to other departments," Nelson said in April.

The range of bonus pay for a lateral move in our region ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. In Seattle, that move is $0.