SEATTLE - In advance of the City Council’s Tuesday Public Safety & Human Services Committee, Mayor Bruce Harrell, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, and Councilmember Sara Nelson announced today a unified approach and path forward to passing legislation related to hiring incentives in support of improving public safety.
“I’d like to commend both Councilmember Herbold and Councilmember Nelson for their dedicated focus on improving public safety in our community. Clearly, there is passion behind our collective desire for an appropriately staffed police department, a trusted system for accountability, and new investments in alternatives to traditional police response for certain instances. I am committed to pursuing these priorities with Councilmembers and the community,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell.
Mayor Harrell continued, “These two thoughtful proposals complement one another. As my administration continues to develop a comprehensive plan to restore police staffing, this is a reminder that when we work together and unite around shared values and common purpose, we develop better ideas that put us on a path toward better results.”
In the short term, Councilmember Herbold’s ordinance asks the City’s Department of Human Resources to develop policy to provide moving relocation benefits for a wider array of citywide job positions that are challenging to hire, with prioritization given to police officers. The Seattle Police Department would be granted access to $650,000 in salary savings to pay for relocation benefits for Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers and to hire an SPD recruiter to attract qualified professionals to Seattle. Councilmember Nelson intends to offer a friendly amendment to the ordinance, which would increase SPD’s recruitment advertising and outreach budget by $350,000, as well as support the police chief national search process.
Councilmember Nelson’s resolution, which will be considered in the same committee meeting on Tuesday, May 10, lays strong groundwork by signaling the Council’s support of a staffing incentive program for SPD and Council’s intent to pass an ordinance that would allow for the implementation of a staffing incentives program at SPD. Mayor Harrell will present his more comprehensive recruitment strategy to City Council and the general public before summer, with further specific funding recommendations for Council’s consideration for approval.
Councilmember Sara Nelson (Position 9, Citywide) said, “Since day one of taking office, I’ve been working to bring together a diverse coalition of community leaders, concerned citizens, and small business owners to refocus our approach to Seattle’s public safety crisis. Today, we’re achieving what was impossible just a year ago. While there is much left to do, this is an encouraging step toward the unity it will take to overcome this crisis. This is what good governance looks like.”
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) said, “My collaboration with the Mayor’s office on this topic has been focused on doing something to address recruitment issues now, not just for hiring police officers, but including critical but hard-to-fill city jobs like carpenters, truck drivers, and civil engineers. A report released by the Executive states that traditional hiring bonuses have a ‘limited impact on retention' and have 'potential inherent drawback and equity issues for both the employer and employees.' Councilmember Nelson’s resolution gives SPD the time to develop a staffing incentives program that may or may not end up including traditional hiring bonuses; we won’t know until we get a proposal from the Executive. I look forward to considering it when delivered by the Executive.”
Mayor Harrell added, “Both Councilmembers Nelson and Herbold understand and appreciate that we need to gain more dedicated and compassionate public servants following considerable attrition over the last few years. We know that reaching national best practice staffing levels for SPD can’t be achieved solely with incentives. Progress requires a holistic effort rooted in our shared commitment to make this a place where officers feel welcome and supported – and where all neighbors feel safe. I hope that between these two Councilmembers’ efforts, and following a robust policy debate, we can work together toward what we’re all striving for: A safe and healthy Seattle."