SEATTLE — A new ranking by the Seattle police union suggests a dire picture for public safety in the city, assigning the lowest score to date in the group's weekly index on crime and staffing levels.
The Seattle Public Safety Index is posted on Twitter each week by the Seattle Police Officers Guild and draws on two major factors: the number of deployable officers and the rate of violent crimes.
The loss of officers by the Seattle Police Department has been profound.
Between 2020 and November 2021, over 325 officers left the department. And another 43 officers departed the department just since the start of the year.
The departures by the officers occurred as violent crimes continue to surge.
“This is red alert time," said Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild. "We are in a serious staffing situation."
Solan says the depleted ranks and the rise in crime is what keeps the police union's weekly public safety index in the danger zone.
The latest index shows a ranking of 25 out of 100,which is an all-time low.
“Given the team we had that put these numbers together, 25 is an appropriate number to alert our community to the realities of what the defunding nonsense has done,” Solan said.
The first index was published in early February and was 30 out of 100. The guild based it on the number of deployable officers and the week's tally of violent crime.
The latest figures show 885 deployable officers. The guild said adequate staffing would be closer to 1,400 officers.
Solan said 18 people are involved in compiling the index, which includes the 15 guild board members and its three executive directors. The guild also conducts community polling to come up with a final index ranking each week.
Some Seattle residents still want to the city to pursue public safety alternatives that don't increase the size of the police department.
“I am on the track of defund the police,” said Lauren Wilson, who lives in North Seattle. “I'm not really a huge fan of cops. I don't feel like they solve a lot of issues."
Others said they’d like to see more police under certain conditions.
“There could always be more but it depends on what they spend their time doing," said Jessica Powell, who lives in Rainier Valley. “It would be nice to have them visible, every now and then."
Seattle is launching a nationwide search for a new police chief and Mayor Bruce Harrell has encouraged interim Chief Adrian Diaz to apply.
Solan said whomever takes the helm will have enormous challenges ahead, and it starts with staffing levels.
“I think our community needs to be informed of the reality of the dire public safety situation we find ourselves in,” Solan said.