Community group exploring how to promote wellness for Seattle police officers after rare political stand by Chief Best
SEATTLE – It’s the first time in recent history when SPD has had a net decrease when it comes to recruitment and retention.
Earlier this week Police Chief Carmen Best took a rare political stand confirming something we’ve been hearing from officers for some time.
She says a lack of support from city politicians specifically from some members of Seattle City Council are driving many to leave the department.
On Friday we followed up with 3 Seattle police officers on what Best said and the morale on the force.
The 3 officers represent diverse personal backgrounds.
“Everyone brings their own unique perspective to it we’ve all grown up in the different parts,” Andre Sinn said.
Sinn’s team helped recruit Tre Smith and Carl Wilson.
“In the short 5 years the things that I have learned, the experiences that I have gained from different trainings,” Smith said.
“There is room for movement, personal goals and professional goals,” Wilson said.
Wilson jumped from the New Orleans Police department to Seattle’s. He says a positive is that SPD encourages career growth.
“It’s a great feeling because I am handing out careers I am giving, I am vetting the next up,” Wilson said.
But the reality is recruitment is slow.
“With a strong economy we have a harder time finding applicants,” Sinn said.
But there is a bigger issue, SPD says more of their younger officers are leaving for other police departments because of politics in Seattle.
“We don’t want to lose good men and women from the department because they don’t feel supported by anybody and particularly they had mentioned the council some of the members of council so it was fair to say that,” Police Chief Carmen Best said.
“All of us are in agreement we love what she said,” Sinn said.
The officers say surveys and exit interviews show low morale stemming from not feeling supported by politicians and at times the public.
Bu June 30, SPD hired 44 people but 53 officers left.
The department says 22 of the 53 are resignations.
After Chief Best voiced her concerns, The Community Police Commission responded.
“Chief Carmen Best has identified a problem and we want to help be part of the solution.”
“I think it’s a good start,” Wilson said.
CPC is a group of people who are normally on the forefront of demanding police accountability but now they are also exploring ways to promote their wellness.
“We are not going to reject anybody’s offer to work with us,” Best said.
Because the hardest thing for many officers aren’t the long hours or even the dangerous situations they are in every day.
“To be hated, not to know me, just to hate me, because I am a police officer when I have devoted my life,” Smith said.
The CPC created a work group to brainstorm ways to help with recruitment and retention. They also want to improve things like compensation and mental health resources for officers.
Chief Best says many of these things the department already has, in fact, her officers are the highest paid in Washington State. They are also currently offering signing bonuses of $15,000 for officers who come to work for them from other departments. It’s a $7,500 signing bonus for new recruits.
Best however says she welcomes the partnership with CPC.