Seattle announced a $2 million plan Wednesday to address what Mayor Bruce Harrell described as a critical shortage of police officers in the city.
It includes recruitment bonuses, reimbursement for moving costs and possible tuition assistance.
The city has lost more than 400 police officers over the past 2 ½ years, which Harrell's office said has led to the point "where essential services cannot be delivered promptly and effectively."
The plan notes that, as of May, the number of trained and deployable officers in Seattle is at its lowest in more than three decades — just 954 — and that the department has been unable to meet annual recruiting goals in recent years.
"To provide a minimum level of service, SPD must make up for this severe staffing shortage by relying on overtime-paid officers almost daily, a significant expense to the city," the plan states, noting the situation is contributing to exhaustion and low morale among officers and harming public safety.
Around 40% of Seattle detectives have had to handle patrol duties.
The City Council has already approved $1 million for recruitment and hiring bonuses. Those dollars came from savings in unspent officer salaries.
In 2019, the department was heavily criticized for its sometimes violent response to racial justice protests, and City Council members embraced calls to defund police.
"We want the right numbers of officers and the right kind of officers," Harrell said. "It crosses racial lines, it crosses socioeconomic lines that people want to feel safe, and they have a right to feel safe."
Harrell wants to offer signing bonuses of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers from other police departments.
New officers would receive up to $7,500.
He called for reimbursing candidates’ applicant fees, travel expenses and relocation costs.
The Pacific Northwest metropolis might also pay tuition for college students who commit to working for the department.
The plan also calls for redoubling efforts to attract officer candidates from Seattle's minority communities and expanding career-advancement opportunities for officers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.