Union: Seattle cops leaving force due to frustration over city politics

A police union called what’s happening in the Seattle Police Department a "mass exodus"


By PoliceOne Staff

SEATTLE — A police union said officers are leaving the Seattle Police Department in a “mass exodus” due to frustration over the city’s politics.

According to KCPQ, 41 officers have left the department, with 20 of those officers leaving to another city or county law enforcement agencies. The number of younger officers reportedly leaving the force and frustrated over the city’s politics is higher than usual, KCPQ reports.

Police officers wait near a car near the scene of a shooting Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Police officers wait near a car near the scene of a shooting Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

“I have never seen the number of officers who are leaving and the way they are leaving,” Seattle Police Guild Vice President Rich O’Neill said.

O’Neill called what’s happening in the department a “mass exodus,” which he said will have a direct impact on public safety. The union said that officers have also not received a pay raise due to contract negotiations.

O’Neill said while the contract negotiations are a point of contention, officers aren’t leaving due to the money but because of city politics. He added that many officers are afraid to do their jobs, and that officers feel a lack of support from city 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.

The union said city council members have been very critical of the department, including Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who reportedly called two officers murderers after an officer-involved shooting. Those two officers later sued Sawant.

The Seattle Police Department said it wouldn’t call recent departure of officers as a mass exodus, and in fact, officials said the department isn’t seeing a huge spike in officers leaving compared to previous years.

The department said it has recruited more officers than those who have left. According to the department, 79 officers left the department but 102 were recruited in 2017. Officials also said they are recruiting more women and minorities to join the force. 

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