In March 2023, Seattle’s Mayor Bruce Harrell released directives advising the Seattle Police Department to have a reduced representation of white males and to emphasize officers with a more military demeanor. Officer Mike Solan, President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, is extremely displeased with these instructions. He is highlighting that when political agendas are deliberately introduced into law enforcement, everyone suffers. Last year, the Seattle City Council approved a strategy to give preference to applicants with a range of racial and immigration backgrounds.
Solan and fellow members of the SPD engaged in conversations with Jason Rantz, a nearby radio host, to voice their dissatisfaction and condemn the divisive nature of this perceived bias. The effort to diversify recruitment was observed to target the black and Hispanic communities, which have been underrepresented within the SPD. Sources from the police department highlight that the memo’s explicit outlining of racial preferences raises concerns.
By July 2023, a survey conducted by Seattle Times reveals that less than 40% of Seattle inhabitants hold the view that the SPD is effectively carrying out its role in crime prevention and citizen protection.
The Seattle Police Department consists of approximately 70% white personnel, which mirrors the demographic composition of Seattle’s population. As indicated by data from PoliceScorecard.org, the SPD’s makeup matches that of the city of Seattle, making it puzzling why the Mayor’s Office would seek to modify recruitment materials.
The numbers change when examining individuals who have been arrested or killed, revealing a racial imbalance towards those who identify as black. The SPD is acknowledged to be under federal supervision due to its history of employing excessive force, including lethal force, more frequently than comparable organizations of similar size across the country.
The Seattle City Council is facing a 48% disapproval rating, whereas the mayor enjoys popularity in Seattle with a 57% approval rating, leaving 25% of respondents undecided, as per a June survey conducted by the Seattle Times. Approximately 42% of those polled express the opinion that both the mayor and the council hold overly liberal views.