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Proposed Seattle police recruitment program to face final vote later this month

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(The Center Square) – The latest attempt from Seattle city leaders to improve staffing levels at the Seattle Police Department has been given a “do-pass” recommendation by the Governance, Accountability, and Economic Development Committee and now moves on to the full city council.

Council Bill 120766 would transfer positions from the Seattle Department of Human Resources to the Seattle Police Department and create a recruitment and retention program within the police department.

If passed by the full city council, the ordinance would have a net addition of one new position to support registry publications and to provide more robust candidate support. This would add an ongoing general fund cost of approximately $146,000, while the city works to handle a $245 million general fund deficit.

“[Council Bill 120766] builds on the work that the executive has already done to streamline and speed up the recruitment process, which I am thankful for,” Seattle City Councilmember Bob Kettle said at Thursday’s committee meeting.

The department has realized a net loss of 337 fully-trained police officers since 2020, with 911 response times having increased as a result.

According to the city, in the last two years, the Seattle Police Department met approximately half of its annual hiring targets, reaching a high of only 61 hires out of 1,948 applications in 2023, a conversion rate of 3%.

Seattle’s Public Safety Civil Service Commission would endeavor to have more direct contact with police officer applicants within two business days of their submissions. The commission would also transition to a public safety testing service that is already being used by other law enforcement agencies in King County.

According to a central staff memo, this service would provide greater access to candidates who wish to make multiple applications with such local law enforcement agencies.

The bill will be up for a full city council vote on May 21.