The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is currently struggling with attempts to hire new police officers as crime continues to surge throughout the city.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bruce Harrell (D-Wash.) gave his State of the City Address, during which he addressed the spike in crime and vowed to hire up to 125 new officers, Fox News reports.
“The depleted staffing we see today does not allow us to react to emergencies and crime with the response times our residents deserve,” said Harrell during his speech. “It does not allow us to staff the specialty teams we need for issues like domestic violence or DUI or financial crimes targeting the elderly. It does not allow us to conduct the thorough investigations we expect to make sustainable change.”
Throughout the city, crime rose to a 14-year high over the last year. Overall violent crime rose by 20 percent, including a 24 percent increase in aggravated assaults and an 18 percent rise in robberies. The number of criminal shootings in 2021 was 612, a 40 percent increase from 2020 and 86 percent higher than 2019.
Compounded with the rise in crime is a mass exodus from the SPD over the last two years. Following the race riots in 2020 and widespread calls from the far-Left to “defund the police,” 186 police officers left the department in 2020, with another 171 leaving in 2021; twenty officers quit the SPD in just the month of January this year.
Former Mayor Jenny Durkan (D-Wash.) originally supported the “defund the police” measures, and infamously allowed domestic terrorists affiliated with Black Lives Matter and Antifa to seize a portion of downtown encompassing six city blocks, which was informally named the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). During that time, Durkan’s administration even considered surrendering a police precinct in the area to the protesters.
Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz directly blamed the “defund the police” rhetoric for the ongoing staff shortage in the SPD, saying that “I know we can retain and hire amazing officers…but the continuing message from some that less officers is the right path to public safety makes that nearly impossible.”