Talk of Seattle Police Department offering $5k retention bonus to keep officers

High-level discussions are underway about giving every single Seattle Police officer a $5,000 retention bonus to prevent them from leaving the department.

A source familiar with the discussions confirmed Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz are discussing the possibility of a $5,000 retention bonus, but it’s not yet in the form of a proposal. 

How it would be funded is unclear.

There are roughly 1,100 deployable officers at the department. At that number, the total in retention bonuses would be $5.5 million dollars.

The department is currently offering a $25,000 bonus for experienced police officers to join the department and a $10,000 bonus for new recruits.

FOX 13 News confirmed this week that all 780 King County deputies will be receiving a $4,000 retention bonus in their paychecks by Feb. 17. 

"Because they are highly trained, highly skilled and I can tell you other police agencies are chopping at the bit to get our people and some of them have even higher hiring bonuses than we do," Interim King County Sherriff Patti Cole-Tindall told FOX 13 News on Tuesday

The bleeding of officers at SPD has been severe.

In 2020, 186 officers left the department and only 51 were hired. In 2021, 171 officers left with 81 new hires-- That’s a net loss of 225 officers over the last two years.

Mayor Durkan authorizes up to $25,000 in hiring bonuses to help Seattle Police staffing crisis

Mayor Durkan has issued an executive order authorizing hiring bonuses for people looking to join the Seattle Police Department, with the aim of upping recruitment for officers and staff.

Harrell spokesperson Jamie Housen would not confirm the talks of a specific $5,000 retention bonus but said the Mayor and the Chief "are exploring all potential strategies and retention bonuses are one potential tool in the toolbox as part of those efforts."

The 2021 salary schedule for SPD officers is higher than for King County Deputies.

For deputies, the salary range is between $73,401.00 and $102,778.00 before overtime.  For Seattle Police officers, the range is $83,650.00 to $109,512.00 before overtime.

There is also an effort by Senate Republicans in Olympia to pass SB 5841. It would give cities and counties the ability to raise the local sales tax one-tenth of one percent to pay for additional officers.

"We are already the lowest per capita across the country in terms of law enforcement per population in our state and it’s gotten much worse" said State Senator John Braun, the Republican’s minority leader in the Senate.

 "How about we help out our local law enforcement rebuild some of that in a way that brings good training, good accountability and good community safety around the state" he said.

 The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee next week.

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