Seattle police to redeploy 100 officers to 911 response

The Seattle Police Department is reassigning 100 officers from specialty units to patrol in hopes of increasing community engagement and speeding up 911 responses.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Wednesday described the changes as part of the city’s broader efforts to reimagine the role of officers in response to anti-racism protests that have gripped the nation following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The officers will largely come from community policing, traffic enforcement and similar units, rather than from those focused on violent crime, sexual assault or domestic violence, Diaz said.

He said the department would add a new shift — 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. — to cover the hours when many 911 calls come in, and that officers assigned to it would work four days on, three days off. Having additional officers on during those times will help reduce the department’s overtime costs and spread the burden of responding to emergency calls, giving each officer more time during a shift to engage with residents rather than simply race from call to call.

“Optimizing the role of patrol officers and creating a community-safety focus for patrol officers is a critical step in reimagining what the policing is,” Durkan said.

The mayor reiterated that she would work with community groups to identify areas where people other than armed officers — such as trained social or mental health workers.

“Today’s announcement is just part of our ongoing work to redirect police to where they’re needed most, and that’s toward scenes of violence and our high-priority calls,” Durkan said.