Seattle City Council approves up to $220k for hiring bonuses of SPD officers, dispatchers

The Seattle City Council passed legislation approving funds for pay bonuses for the Seattle Police Department in 2022, even though initially they said there were no funds for the bonuses.

In February, there were discussions of a retention bonus for SPD and one of the highest hiring bonuses in the state.

Months before her term ended, former mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order which authorized a hiring bonus of up to $25,000 for lateral SPD hires, and up to $10,000 for new hires, depending on experience.

At the end of January, discussions were underway about giving every Seattle Police officer a $5,000 retention bonus to prevent officers from leaving the department that is already short-staffed.

According to Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is the head of the Public Safety Committee, the council voted to fund the bonuses only through the end of 2021.

Herbold said in February that no bonuses were funded or authorized for 2022.

The bill approved on Tuesday provides up to $220,000 for the hiring of 14 City of Seattle Communications Center dispatchers and five SPD officers. 

In a Dec. 30 letter to incoming Mayor Bruce Harrell from Durkan, she warned that there may not be money for hiring bonuses in 2022 and that he may want to issue his own emergency order to keep the funding going.

Harrell did not.

A spokesperson for Harrell told FOX 13 in February that they believed the funding for the bonuses tied to Durkan’s order is still available.

The bleeding of officers at SPD has been severe, between vaccine mandates and those that have left during the defend the police movements in 2020

There are roughly 1,100 deployable officers at the department currently. At that number, the total in retention bonuses would be $5.5 million dollars.

In 2020, 186 officers left the department and only 51 were hired. In 2021, 171 officers left with 81 new hires-- which is a net loss of 225 officers over the last two years.

King County, on the other hand, is paying commissioned employees a $4,000 bonus to stay with the department through the end of 2022.

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