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Seattle has seen 110 police officers depart this year, department says

By Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE - Seattle has had 110 officers leave the Police Department this year, including 39 officers last month, according to an update from the department.

That's more departures than in any year since at least 2012, according to the department. There were 92 last year, 109 in 2018 and 79 in 2017.

The department made 51 hires earlier this year, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Mayor Jenny Durkan implemented a temporary hiring freeze.

The separation numbers may elicit mixed reactions and interpretations as city leaders and residents continue to debate whether Seattle's police force should be reduced and by how much.

Proponents of shrinking the force have said mental-health professionals, social workers and community-based safety teams can substitute in many cases for officers with guns who too often hurt people, especially Black people. Seattle has since 2012 been subject to a court agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice requiring the Police Department to curb excessive force and biased policing. Skeptics have warned about spreading the city's force too thin.

This September, according to the department, 36 fully trained officers and three officers-in-training separated.

 

Year to date, there have been 53 resignations, 50 retirements, six terminations and one death, according to the department.

Most of the departures have been retirements by officers with more than 20 years of service (there have been 49 of those) or resignations by officers with up to 10 years of service (there have been 40 of those).

Of the officers who resigned, 26 said they were moving to another law enforcement agency, 17 cited "personal reasons" and 10 cited no reasons, Durkan's office said.

The department and Durkan shared the new data on officer departures with reporters Thursday before briefing the City Council, said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who asked for an update on separations last month.

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