Nearly four dozen police officers have resigned from the Seattle Police Department this year in what is being described as a "mass exodus" over the city's increasingly liberal and progressive policies.
What are the details?
Despite the population of the popular northwestern city skyrocketing, the city's police force remains at levels seen during the 1970s. Rich O’Neill, vice president of the Seattle Police Guild, told KCPQ-TV the reason behind a large portion of the departures is concerning.
While many of those who have left this year retired, 20 or so left Seattle to work for other cities, states and law enforcement agencies. The reason for the "mass exodus?" O'Neill said officers are frustrated with the city's liberal policies and lack of support from local officials.
"It's just depressing to serve in a place where many City Council members who are coming out at times with negative comments about the police," O'Neill said, explaining many officers are leaving Seattle for neighboring jurisdictions.
A source who spoke to KCPQ under the condition of anonymity confirmed O'Neill's explanation.
"Worker bees on the street, they don't feel appreciated. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life," the source said.
More from KCPQ:
The union says Councilmembers Mike O’Brien and Kshama Sawant have been very critical of the police department. They say Sawant calling two officers murderers quickly after an officer-involved shooting was inappropriate.
O’Neill also says there are not enough officers to respond to all the calls, especially for low-level offenses. But he also says politics is playing a role when it comes to going after those low-level crimes.
O’Neill says city leaders are sending the message that officers cannot be proactive about policing and that they are allowing certain crimes to go on without accountability.
Meanwhile, the police guild said Seattle officers have not seen a pay raise in more than three years. However, O'Neill reiterated the exodus has nothing to do with benefits and everything to do with politics.
"I’ve been here since 1980, I’ve never seen the city in the condition it is in. It’s because it’s been allowed on many levels," O'Neill said.
What did Seattle PD say?
The police department told KCPQ it would not characterize the departures as a "mass exodus," explaining they've been able to replace officers who leave with new recruits.
According to police data, 79 officers left the force in 2017, but the agency was able to recruit 102 new officers. In 2017, there were 1,444 sworn police officers working in Seattle.