Seattle reaches "stage 3 emergency" over police shortage

AP Photo/Aron Ranen

You probably wouldn’t know it by watching CNN or reading the front page of the Washington Post, but the city of Seattle, Washington has reached another level of crisis. Despite being mired in crime and ongoing protests, the staffing situation at the Seattle Police Department has reached such a dire level that they have declared a “stage three” emergency condition. At this point, detectives, plainclothes officers and non-patrol units will now be responding to 911 calls. And residents are being warned there may be increased delays in response times. The local police union has announced that they can’t afford to lose “one more officer” at this point or they simply won’t be able to assure the safety of the populace. There’s really no point in asking how things got to this point because the union had been predicting it since last year. (KOMO News)

In what the president of Seattle’s Police Guild calls an “unprecedented move,” the department moved to “Stage 3” operations Wednesday.

That means detectives and other non-patrol units will serve as first responders to 9-1-1 calls.

The department has already lost more than 300 officers in the past year, and hundreds more could face termination next week if they don’t comply with the vaccine order.

The SPD staffing crisis has become so dire, police union president Mike Solan is warning about what’s next, as the department mobilizes to “Stage 3″—an emergency scenario because of a shortage of officers.

At this point, every member of the SPD, regardless of their normal assignment, is coming to work in uniform and ready to hit the streets if required. And according to the Police Guild, it’s still not enough. They’ve already lost more than 300 officers in the past year.

The timing couldn’t be worse because the deadline is approaching on Monday for all police officers to obey the executive mandate that they receive the COVID vaccine or be placed on extended leave without pay. To date, 98 officers are in the process of seeking exemptions. Another 186 haven’t turned in any paperwork regarding their vaccination status. Since exemptions have rarely been granted, this potentially puts the city at risk of losing more than 250 additional officers this week, and they simply can’t absorb that sort of loss.

We’ve seen similar situations playing out in other cities already and one theme seems to be common among them all. These staffing shortages are self-feeding in nature. When the police ranks are this depleted, everyone winds up taking extra shifts, working overtime and having days off canceled. This wears these men and women in uniform down and lowers job satisfaction, causing many to begin looking for work in smaller, lower-pressure communities. In other words, the fewer cops you have, the more cops you tend to lose.

How did we arrive at this desperate state of affairs? That’s not much of a mystery and several of us have been covering the situation here for years now. The government long ago turned its back on the Seattle Police Department and began listening to the rhetoric of the leftist groups seeking to defund or abolish the police. Protests turned to riots which spiraled into attacks on police officers. With everyone seemingly turning against them, many left the force. The remaining cops seemed to lose interest in getting out of their squad cars for much beyond 911 calls.

Those trends created prime conditions for crime to continue to grow out of control. That’s how we wound up with the CHOP zone and the police “no go” zones around the city. Residents have held meetings to protest these conditions, but their cries have gone unanswered. At some point, the city government is either going to have to beg for the National Guard to come in and restore order or just board up City Hall and leave the city to the mob.