SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has approved an ordinance freeing up more than $1 million to be used to recruit police officers to a department that has lost hundreds of staffers in the last two years.
The Seattle Times reports the ordinance passed by a 6-3 vote Tuesday allows up $1.15 million of $4.5 million in projected unspent salary savings in the police budget to be used for recruitment.
The incentives would be used to attract new officers to the Seattle Police Department, which has experienced a net loss of 255 officers since 2020.
About 20 residents called into the meeting in opposition to the plan, saying the council is figuring out how to incentivize hiring more police without having done anything in the last two years to hold police more accountable after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.
The ordinance does not spell out a specific incentive plan. It does release funds for a future plan including up to $650,000 for moving expenses for new officers hired in 2022. It would also allow up to $350,000 for a national campaign to advertise officer positions and up to $150,000 to fund the city’s search for a permanent police chief.
“It could be used for hiring bonuses, retention bonuses, educational stipends, child care. Frankly, whatever. I don’t care what it’s used for,” said Councilmember Sara Nelson. “What I want is for a staffing incentive program to be developed — ideally with collaboration between the executive and council — that ends up being the most competitive we can get to attract recruits.”
Councilmember Tammy Morales argued there were better ways to spend money to increase public safety, like investing in safe drug consumption sites, tiny house villages, permanent supportive housing units, back rent payments for struggling tenants, or other social programs.