Military and Police

A $15K Bonus to Attract Officers Shows Leftist Leaders Just Don’t Get Cops

A few months back, Seattle’s new mayor, Jenny Durkan, looked foolish when she tried to ingratiate herself with the city’s police officers by disparaging their fellow cops who work for the Port of Seattle Police Department. She was attempting one of those we’re-the-big-leagues-and-you’re-just-mall-cops comparisons. She apparently believes professional law enforcement officers are easy-to-manipulate, ego-driven blowhards who sleazy politicians can influence with their enchanted words.

Now, since her words backfired, she has put her money (well, the taxpayers’ money) where her mouth is. KOMO 4 News, Seattle’s ABC affiliate, reported that Mayor Durkan is now offering a $15,000 bonus as an incentive to entice experienced law enforcers to leave other departments to work for Seattle. Money is better than her venomous words, but it still shows she doesn’t get it. It’s not all about money. Especially in leftist-run cities. It’s about respect.

The city hemorrhaging cops is related to how leftist federal, state, county, and city government leaders treat police officers. In Seattle’s case, for a local example, the city’s politicians are openly hostile toward the police. One city councilwoman publicly called two Seattle police officers “murderers.” She was commenting on their actions in a line-of-duty shooting that never should have been controversial. And though she is the worst of that anti-cop lot (the bar is pretty low), other council members have been deafeningly silent about her dangerous anti-police words and actions. Incidentally, that socialist member of the neo-Democrat council was the only member to vote against the labor contract with the police officers.

Kevin Stuckey, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, says he’s been advising city leaders about staffing shortages for months. (Hell, I know firsthand the staffing shortages have been happening for years. It’s just that, now, the situation has gone from serious to desperate).

Stuckey says the bonus is a “nice start,” but the city needs to focus on public relations. He said staffing difficulties have led to longer response times and something new: detectives being re-trained to fill staffing shortages in patrol. For you non-cops out there, I guarantee veteran detectives in America reading this just felt a shiver shoot up their collective spines. Not many detectives want to work in patrol, especially these days (not many patrol officers, either). To show you how bad it is in this radical leftist, left-coast city, Stuckey had to be pulled out of a meeting with Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best at the Police Guild office because someone called in a death threat against the place.

Cloyd Steiger, retired Seattle PD homicide detective, department legend (a hell of a good guy) and author of “Homicide: The View from Inside the Yellow Tape: A True Crime Memoir (2018), still keeps tabs on the city’s treatment of its cops. Especially since two of those officers call him Dad. Steiger also says it’s not about the money. He told KOMO, “Seattle officers are some of the highest paid in the state; he doubts a $15,000 hiring bonus is enough to attract that many extra bodies when every department nationwide is struggling to find qualified applicants.”

Steiger recalled when he tested for the police department back in 1979. Some 2,000 people took the test. In 1992, when I tested, similarly, thousands of candidates applied for the few available slots. About the department testing to hire police recruits today, Steiger said, “now they’re likely to get 20.” Steiger also told KOMO “though he spent more than 30 years with the department, [he] said if he was in patrol now, he isn’t sure he’d stay on the force.” SPD has been sending department recruiters to other cities to see if they can attract candidates. In one city, KOMO reported, “no one showed up…”

Steiger’s view that he may not have stayed with the department concurs with what I’ve written about in my latest book, “De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State,” as well as in several articles. I left the department 10 years earlier than I would have because of how the city treats its police officers. Because of the effusive disrespect gushing from city government, I had zero trust city “leaders” would have supported me if I had been, even having acted legally and in good faith, involved in an incident made controversial by leftist radical groups and the media.

Many officers have retired earlier than they’d intended, left for other departments, or simply resigned (not to mention those who were wrongly fired). Hell, after four years working without one, the cops finally settled their contract with the city early November 2018. What’s their reward? A leftist federal judge imposing himself on the mediation process and second-guessing the mediator’s decision. The city still hasn’t paid officers their retro-checks. During my career, I remember the process going fairly quickly after the city and Guild approved a contract.

Steiger and I also agree about the police incident review process second-guessing and officially investigating even the most minute officer actions. Steiger again struck a bulls-eye when he said, “The city is ruining a once-great police department and because of that a once-great city is being ruined right alongside it.”

Mayor Durkan seems to believe cops are marionettes, and she thinks she can be the puppetmaster if only she can figure out how to pull the right strings. Fake words didn’t work, so let’s try to ply them with a little cash. What she fails to understand, probably because she can’t see beyond the anti-cop muck she’s been wallowing in, is this issue about the city government’s attitude toward its cops. When you insult cops daily, call them murderers, and inflict on police officers a consent decree they do not deserve, this is what you get—cops leaving.

No one likes to be punished for something they didn’t do. The media in this town won’t remind folks, but when the Department of Justice (DoJ) came to town to “investigate” the SPD for police misconduct, Mayor Durkan was a part of the upper echelon of the DoJ. Yes, she was one of those responsible for conducting one of the quickest federal investigations I’ve ever seen and then releasing ridiculous, pre-ordained “conclusions.”

Then, rather than slinking away in embarrassment, Durkan and her DoJ colluders doubled-down on the lies, which they fortified by refusing to release the methodology used in the study to arrive at such ludicrous results. A Seattle University criminal justice professor debunked the government’s study but no one in the DoJ or Seattle City Hall was interested. The results were guaranteed and so was the implementation of a bogus consent decree.

As far as the department’s official statements about Durkan’s $15K bonus go, Chief Best said, “our compensation needs to stay competitive.” A safe answer, but I understand the chess game this woman has to play between herself and the collective contentious factions.

Department spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb also issued a statement. First, he’s is a nice guy. But he made a statement that has me wondering what Seattle Police Department he was talking about when he said, “It’s a great time to be a police candidate.” I… I mean, you… I mean… Um, okay, Sean.

It’s ironic that the results of Durkan’s past DoJ and current mayoral actions have played a significant role as to why she now has to offer cash to attract experienced officers to work in this socialist-run (down) city. But here’s something the mayor probably doesn’t like to think about: If the city she now leads and the DoJ, when she was with them, treated officers with the respect they’ve earned and deserve, all the officers who’ve left (Hi!) and who are now leaving may have remained or would remain with the department.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
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 www.stevepomper.com.

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