Seattle police bringing back unarmed community service officers

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle is supplementing its police ranks by hiring unarmed, noncommissioned officers.

The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that the 12 officers hired for the community service officer program will respond to noncriminal calls and help connect residents with city services.

Officials say the city hopes the new supplemental staff, including two supervisors, will allow police officers to focus on criminal activity.

The community service officers will not have the authority to enforce laws and their uniforms and patrol cars will have distinct markings.

Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan's $5.9 billion budget passed by the city council in November earmarked about $1.3 million in 2019 and $1.67 million in 2020 for the program.

The program previously operated for 33 years until it was defunded in 2004.