Unhappy that Mayor Mike McGinn–citing shortfalls in the city budget–pushed the pause

Unhappy that Mayor Mike McGinn–citing shortfalls in the city budget–pushed the pause button on a plan to hire 21 new patrol officers by year’s end, the Downtown Seattle Association has released a report indicating that Seattle has less officers per capita than it did a decade ago. But exactly how many police officers does a city of 600,000 people need?In a Seattle Times

editorial, the DSA writes that back in 2000 Seattle was a city of 563,373. At the time, SPD employed 1,264 officers. That’s 2.24 officers per every 1000 Seattleites. Ten years later, Seattle has 617,334 residents with 1,338 officers, or 2.16 officers per thousand residents. “We can’t sustain safe and vibrant neighborhoods with a shrinking police force relative to the overall size of the city.” It’s an intuitive argument–as a population increases, so should the number of sworn officers policing it. But balancing a budget is hard. And even in the most flush of times, determining the number of sworn officers it takes to ensure public safety is far from an exact science. That goes double in a city like Seattle where the crime stats tend to confuse the debate.As Mayor McGinn points out, the number of major crimes committed in Seattle has tumbled in recent years. But SPD’s latest stats indicate that in downtown Seattle, property crime is up. So, if you’re one of the DSA’s patrons, you’re more than likely in the pro-police-force-expansion camp. UCLA Professor of Public Policy Mark Kleiman, who last month spoke at a city-council sponsored town hall on public safety says there’s no generally accepted benchmark for appropriate police staffing levels. A decent police to population ratio is one and a half to two officers per 1,000 residents, he adds.That puts Seattle in range at least. With the weather warming up, however, downtown’s ever-fluctuating population of commuters, tourists and boozers is only going to increase. And if the crime trends hold, the DSA is only have more grist for their argument.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, who pushed for broadband funding in Washington schools. (Screenshot from murray.senate.gov)
American Rescue Plan Act funding approved for broadband investments in WA schools

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray pushed for the funding, which will benefit several King County school districts.

Courtesy photo
State offers free at-home COVID-19 tests

You can order the tests through the state’s new online portal.

Sen. Mona Das, D-47
Kent Democratic Sen. Mona Das proposes 1% cut in state sales tax

Starting in 2023; Republicans voice support for Senate Bill 5932

Federal Way police arrest suspect in fatal carjacking

35-year-old Tacoma man charged with murder in “random, brutal and senseless carjacking,” preosecutors say.

File photo.
Man accused of fatally shooting 11-year-old girl’s dog in front of her

The defendant is being charged with first-degree animal cruelty and reckeless endangerment.

Stock photo, Metro Creative Graphics
Auburn, Federal Way mayors speak out against multifamily housing bill

Leaders say they don’t need state intervention.

File photo
Non-profit sponsors study on how the pandemic impacted arts and culture in Puget Sound

The study helped identify challenges faced by residents and cultural organizations in Washington

File photo
WA lawmakers propose making companies responsible for recycling improvements

SB 5697 would compel industries to report data, invest in infrastructure, meet standards.

Governor Jay Inslee. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee: Officials’ lies about election results should be crime

Governor wants lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor.

Most Read