Seattle PD has lost another 75 officers. There aren't enough detectives left to investigate new sexual assault cases

Two years ago protesters and members of the Seattle City Council were demanding the city defund its police force. And two years later it’s clear officers haven’t forgotten. In April KUOW published this chart of deployable SPD officers over time. At the end of 2019, before the death of George Floyd and the push to defund the police, the city had 1,281 such officers. By the end of last year that number was down to 958 officers.


None of this is a surprise to anyone. Nearly a year ago, former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said, “We’re on path to losing 300 officers.” She also explained why it was happening, “Not unexpected, losing these number of officers, when city leaders talk about cutting the department by 50 percent. You will lose employees. Families need security. Workers, even police officers, need working conditions that support them.”

Today, Jason Rantz reports the decline in Seattle police force continues to outpace efforts to hire new officers. If the trend continues, the city could lose another 200 officers this year.

The Seattle Police Department is on track to lose nearly 200 officers by the end of the year. The latest data on officer separations versus recruitment shows the crisis has no end in sight.

A spokesperson with the SPD says the city lost 67 officers this year, leaving the department with just 838 officers. But the separation data is based on staffing levels through May 20, with official numbers that reflect all of May to be released next week. Multiple sources tell me the SPD lost 13 officers in May, bringing the year-to-date total to 75.

“These numbers indicate an alarming situation, that if we don’t focus on retaining the current qualified officers from leaving, we’re in deep, deep trouble,” Seattle Police Officers Guild president Mike Solan exclusively tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Because there’s no way we’ll be able to recruit qualified people to want to even come here. And the numbers are indicative of that. And we’re very, very concerned moving forward.”


Meanwhile, through the end of May, the city will have hired (or rehired) a total of 26 officers for a net decline of 49 officers so far. The situation was already declared a “stage 3 emergency” last year, meaning all officers including detectives were required to respond to 911 calls.

The decline has had other serious impacts. Last month NPR reported that Seattle had put all sexual assault investigations on the back burner. The Seattle Times confirmed that story just yesterday.

Seattle police’s sexual assault and child abuse unit staff has been so depleted that it stopped assigning to detectives this year new cases with adult victims, according to an internal memo sent to interim police Chief Adrian Diaz in April.

The unit’s sergeant put her staffing crisis in stark terms.

“The community expects our agency to respond to reports of sexual violence,” Sgt. Pamela St. John wrote, “and at current staffing levels that objective is unattainable.”

They literally can’t investigate new sexual assaults because of the lack of officers. The impact of this isn’t just a lack of justice for the victims. We’ve already seen one case where an alleged rapist, who was released because of late paperwork, went on to allegedly rape another woman.

Today, Police Chief Diaz has responded to the story about the lack of detectives to handle sexual assault cases. His statement reads in part.


The Seattle Police Department has seen a reduction of 402 officers/detectives deployable staff since 2019. These losses have been felt in every corner of SPD at a time when homicides and incidents of gunfire are on the rise in our city.

Recent news coverage over our department’s staffing issues has focused on the Sexual Assault Unit (SAU). Sexual violence is one of the most serious crimes our department investigates, and when I learned of staffing concerns in SAU in April, I immediately began work to bolster the unit with additional detectives, as well as non-police staff who provide support to victims of sexual violence. I was able to ensure the Investigations Bureau rapidly shifted an additional investigator to the unit, brought in support staff to SAU to process cases sent to prosecutors, and utilized skilled detectives in other units to aid in addressing SAU’s caseload. I also engaged with organizations doing important work with survivors of sexual assault in our region, which led to expanded outreach by the city’s Victim Support Team, to help survivors work through their trauma.

We will continue to build on that work, despite the many challenges that remain ahead. In 2019 we had 234 detectives. Three years later, we have 134.

If the number of officers continues to decline by triple digits, at some point soon people are not going to be able to count on police in anything but the most dire circumstances. That’s not a reflection on the officers who remain it’s just the reality of having far too few officers on hand to deal with the level of crime the city is experiencing 24/7. In other words, what’s happening to the sexual assault unit is just the start. As former Mayor Durkan said, “Not unexpected, losing these number of officers, when city leaders talk about cutting the department by 50 percent.”


Stick around to the end of this clip for the Police Chief’s prediction of how long it will take the city to recover from its current losses, losses that all trace back to 2020 and left-wing enthusiasm to defund the police.

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