Military and Police

Seattle Police Department Imploding: Difficulties in Hiring and a Mass Exodus as Officers Retire Early or Leave for Other Agencies

I received information two days ago, which I trusted but have been waiting for corroboration. This information also validates my thesis about de-policing in America (at least, in Seattle) in all its manifestations, including: officers refraining from proactive patrol tasks; superiors ordering officers not to enforce laws; and politically motivated leaders otherwise thwarting the police officers’ public safety mission.

This morning on KVI Radio, host Kirby Wilbur provided that corroboration. He announced the same information I’d gotten. He reported that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is “imploding” as it relates to retaining (not to mention recruiting) police officers. Officers are not only choosing to retire sooner than they’d planned (like I did) but officers are also fleeing the city for more welcoming employment conditions. It’s tough enough with so many people in our communities standing against cops these days. But it’s devastating when an officers’ own city leaders are among the most vocal anti-cop opponents.

Wilbur said at least 50 Seattle police officers are transferring to other law enforcement agencies. Wilbur also said an officer told him that out of the 50 officers assigned to his watch (work shift) within his precinct, 25 have applied to other departments. The KVI host also said an officer told him he believes half of the department’s officers are considering leaving the SPD. Don’t laugh…from my conversations with officers, that might be a conservative number.

This corroborates the following information I mentioned above, which purportedly came from a retired SPD officer:

FROM A RELIABLE SOURCE 28 Seattle Police Officers are leaving SPD and going to KC [King County] Sheriff. 18 Seattle Police Officers are leaving SPD and going to Tacoma PD. 6 Seattle Police Officers are leaving SPD and going to Everett PD. That’s another 52 officers out the door. I don’t blame them, and I urge others to follow their example.

I’ve also heard from other sources that several officers are applying with or are in the hiring process for the Pierce County Sheriff, Olympia P.D., and the Port of Seattle P.D. What a sad situation when retired cops feel they have to advise active officers to look elsewhere if they want to serve successfully as police officers. But what else could they say?

What else could any retiree advise a young person who wants a career in law enforcement these days? I mean, if you want to be reviled —even by your city’s leaders— join SPD, or Portland P.D., or Baltimore P.D., or San Francisco P.D., or Los Angeles P.D., or New York P.D., or any Democrat-run jurisdiction. But this result is not unexpected. Just look at how poorly many Democrat/Socialist city leaders have been treating their cops for years now. And it’s not getting better; it’s getting worse.

During an interview with KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz, Police Chief Carmen Best conceded, “We are seeing an uptick [in people leaving the Seattle Police Department].” And, add to officer retention a problem recruiting qualified candidates in the first place. About the latter, Best told Rantz, “Yes I do, we’ve had a gap in recruiting.” She added she hopes the contract passes, so SPD can offer a competitive compensation package compared with other agencies.

Well, not if some anti-cop city officials get their way.

SPD officers have been working without a contract for about four years. The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) recently approved a contract and sent it to the membership for a vote. The cops voted in favor of the contract. Sergeants and officers returned 1,059 ballots of which 1,013 voted yes. This is rare and overwhelming support.

So, what’s the officers’ reward for their patience? The city council is hedging at approving the contract. The hesitation comes in the wake of a unanimous vote (8-0) by the Seattle Police Commission (SPC), all civilians, which recommended the city council reject the contract. The SPC fears the contract “rolls back” police reforms (i.e. leftist social justice policies and indoctrination), which they also assert may violate the bogus (my word) federal consent decree imposed in 2012.

Surprisingly, Mayor Jenny Durkan, who helped inflict the consent decree on Seattle cops as the U.S. attorney for the region at the time, supports the contract and is urging the city council to ratify it. Not surprisingly, Police Chief Carmen Best also supports the contract and has not been afraid to say so.

However, the city council, led by radical leftist councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez, is standing in the way of approving an agreement both sides hammered out over a very long time. First, the mayor tried to shoot down the police chief candidate most approved-of by the officers (fortunately, Chief Best was eventually selected), and now the SPC and city council want to delay the cops’ well-earned and overdue pay raise.

One thing required of a police officer to have performed properly on the job is to have acted in good faith and without malice. Shouldn’t we also apply that standard to Seattle’s political leadership? I don’t see how we can conclude anything other than the opposite: That the Seattle Police Commissioners and their Seattle City Council allies are acting in bad faith and with malice—toward the city’s cops.

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Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

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