Seattle’s mayor says the public is waiting longer for a police response to 911 calls after the exodus of many officers. The force is smaller after resignations and budget cuts in the wake of the city’s anti-police protests last year.
The Seattle Police Department has an expressed goal of responding to 911 Priority 1 calls within seven minutes, KIRO7 reports. Priority 1 calls include major crimes like robberies and shots-fired, Seattle Police Department officials told City Council on Tuesday. The goal for Priority 2, which includes assault, is 15 minutes.
“Seven minutes is a long time when you need somebody right now. And the more officers we lose, the more that number will go up,” Mayor Jenny Durkan told the local CBS affiliate.
However, the Seattle police have not been able to meet their goals in the wake of resignations and department budget cuts from city hall.
At least 186 officers left the department last year, the local news outlet reported. That is up from an average churn of 56 officers per year over the last 20 years, officials stated.
SPD only hired 51 officers to fill the vacancies.
Police officials reported the slower response numbers during a city council meeting where they urged members to not recommend an additional budget cut for this year, KOMO News reported. The council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee discussed the information but took no action.
“So many people have left the department and we are so hamstrung in our ability to hire back, it is starting to really have risks to public safety and our obligations under the consent decree,” Mayor Durkan told the local ABC affiliate.
Police officials said there were 221 days last year where officers could only respond to Priority 1 or Priority 2 calls. The department could not respond to any lower incidents for more than 60 percent of the year.
KIRO reported that response times for Priority 1 calls in June ran as high as 8 minutes. Priority 2 calls in June and August had wait times as longs as 24 minutes.
After budget cuts last year, the City Council reluctantly gave the department $5.4 million to cover overtime during multiple protests. The council pledged to cut that $5.4 million from this year’s budget.
Mayor Durkan said this is the wrong time to make those kinds of cuts.
Breitbart News reported extensively on Seattle Police Department-related issues.