Seattle’s Public Safety, at a Tipping Point
Open Letter to Mayor Bruce Harrell
Public safety in Seattle is at a tipping point. As politicians realize their support of defunding the police was short sighted, we as a community are now dealing with the inevitable results. Sadly, in just two years, our city has lost almost half of its police officers. This grim reality has unfortunately spawned an alarming rise of violent crime. Each day, the citizens of Seattle are left to deal with the fallout of shootings, homicides, robberies and violent assaults as the scales of justice hang in the balance.
Moreover, our entire state is dealing with the reality of Seattle’s crime wave as our violence has spread to other communities. To address this alarming crime wave, our state’s politicians are now rewriting last year’s police reform laws to reflect a more moderate interpretation. While not perfect (when viewed by a reasonable officer), this is positive news.
Mayor Harrell’s promise to get control of Seattle’s public safety dilemma is also positive news. His commitment to hitting the “reset button” with the city council is politically sound and the right thing to do. We, as the city’s police officers, fully support his endeavor. As our police budget is in the hands of the council, Mayor Harrell’s success is ultimately tied to our success. Wouldn’t this then ultimately lead to Seattle’s success?
Success is what we all should strive for in our community. It is blatantly clear that Seattle is desperate for more qualified officers. The mayor must act immediately to tip the staffing scales. Equally as important to recruitment is Mayor Harrell voicing public support for our current officers. This act alone would have a profound positive impact for retaining those officers and improving morale among the rank and file. Failing to do so will be considered as more of the same from City Hall and the unprecedented loss of officers will continue to increase as will the city’s violent crime.
The overwhelming majority of Seattle police officers conduct quality policing. We take great pride in our service to Seattle; knowing that we are national law enforcement leaders in crisis response, de-escalation, training, accountability and reform. In fact, in early 2020, just before George Floyd’s murder, SPD was considered by Mayor Durkan to be a “model of police agency reform” and formally requested the DOJ to lift the Federal Settlement Agreement. Unfortunately, soon thereafter, politics prevailed over public safety, and City Hall rescinded their termination request and started Seattle down our current path of violence.
It is with all of this in mind, that I invite Mayor Harrell to open the lines of communication with SPOG; to begin charting a new path of collaboration and to put public safety before politics. Together we can remedy Seattle’s public safety crisis.
Seattle is worth saving. Wouldn’t you agree Mayor Harrell?