At least 118 officers have left the Seattle police force this year, leaving only 1,200 officers to cover the city of nearly 745,000 people.
Of these, 39 officers left in September, a month that sees a half dozen or so leave the force in a typical year. The numbers for the year included lateral moves to other agencies, as well as retirements. The largest group, however, were those who simply resigned. Many of these officers left after the city announced budget cuts to the force following demonstrations by politically left groups such as Antifa and the establishment of the so-called autonomous zone earlier this year. Former Police Chief Carmen Best was one of the first to resign.
According to Seattle Police Officer Guild President Mike Solan, the loss of officers has negative ramifications for the city.
"Your 911 call for help will go unanswered for a significant amount of time," said Solan.
Many of the officers still on the force are reportedly using their accrued sick time to interview with other departments and agencies or wait for retirement.
Seattle has not had such a low number of officers since before 1990. Since that time, it has reportedly had a 44% increase in population and a 60% increase in homicides year-over-year.
Interim chief Adrian Diaz confirmed the report on Thursday evening
"I also want to acknowledge the press reporting, which will be more widescale tomorrow, about the extent of the employees separating from the department" Diaz wrote in an email. "As I have said before – I know these are incredibly hard times. I also have said I will do everything I can to keep this department whole. Each of you is needed. More people in this city want you doing your job than don't. We are pursuing multiple ways to improve your day-to-day experience – I can only ask that you give us time to see if they are successful."
🔦 In addition to cutting the police budget, Seattle's politicians have increasingly pushed other anti-police agendas throughout the year. In July, a councilwoman was criticized for saying Seattle should fire white officers based on race and another councilwoman was criticized for saying her goal was to "dismantle" the "utterly bankrupt system of capitalism," referring to it as a "police state."