Exit interviews, which blamed city leadership, riots, and low morale for leaving the department, paint a gloomy picture of the Seattle Police Department’s state. These scathing words from officers come at a time when a record number of officers are leaving, and some city council members are looking at making even deeper budget cuts.
KOMO News obtained the exit interviews, and it is clear that the officers were brutally honest and shared their disgust with their city management of the police department.
One police Sgt. A 20-year veteran stated, “I refuse to work for this socialist city council and their political agenda. This agenda sacrifices the health and well-being of the officers and ultimately will destroy the fabric of this once fine city.”
When asked: “What factors had a negative effect on morale in the department?” One officer replied, “The council wanting to defund us and gaining ground doing it. Rioters not being charged even when they assault officers.”
Another patrol officer offered this explanation for leaving the department: “Current hostile work environment. In a precinct that is under civil unrest by a small group that is constantly committing multiple felonies and attempting to murder peace officers.”
When followed up with the question: “What did you enjoy least about working at SPD?”
The officer said, “I enjoyed almost every aspect of working with Seattle PD itself. The one thing that I enjoyed the least was the handling of the last three months of riots.”
Jim Fuda, Crimestoppers Director of Law Enforcement Services, which works with SPD, says the responses point to a hostile and non-supportive work environment for officers.
“It’s ridiculous,” Fuda said. “Just when you think it can’t get more insane, it does.”
In response to the question: “Would you like to work for SPD again in the future?”
Some said they’re open to the opportunity if things change “drastically.”
One canine officer who’s resigning after more than 11 years said, “I highly doubt it. You could pay me twice what you’re paying me now, and I would not work for Seattle under this current political mayhem, Marxist collaborations, and lack of government and police leadership.”
“It’s an absolute joke and a travesty for the rest of the citizens here in this city, this once beautiful city,” said Fuda. “Our police department is there to protect all of us, and because of the cutbacks and the retirements, who’s going to protect our public safety?”
According to the exit interviews, several of the officers were planning to work in the surrounding areas and in places where they feel like they will get more support.
The department has seen 110 departures in the first nine months of 2020, compared to year-end totals of 109 in 2018 and 92 in 2019.
According to a report issued last week by the city, 39 officers left the department in September, double than any previous month in SPD’s history.
The Seattle City Council will start identifying issues it sees in the mayor’s 2021 budget for SPD on Tuesday. Seven of the nine council members have pledged a 50 percent cut to the police budget during the height of the protests that resulted from the death of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers.
According to KOMO News, Kshama Sawant, the one council member who has never wavered from that demand, says there would be no need to cut other city departments if that cut to the police department is made.
“Defunding the police by 50 percent and a small increase in the Amazon tax could prevent all budget cuts to all departments,” she said.