Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan referred to Port of Seattle Police as “mall cops” while at a Seattle Police Officer’s Guild meeting, in a bizarre attempt to put a tourniquet on the department’s personnel hemorrhage.
Last week, Durkan told SPD officers that the number of officers currently abandoning the department is much steeper than it actually is, and that the Port of Seattle Police (where many SPD officers are looking to transfer) are little more than “mall cops.”
Needless to say, the comment didn’t go over well.
“They are a police agency, not ‘mall cops,’” one officer told KTTH. “It’s insulting. She was trying to say we need to stay here and slam any other options that you have. And, it’s actually a pretty good option because of healthcare and pay.”
Durkan backtracked in a statement, claiming it was a joke to keep her officers on the department.
“In answering a question about officers being recruited by neighboring jurisdictions, I repeated my belief that we have the best-trained, best-qualified officers in the country and discussed the caliber of the work delivered by Seattle Police officers,” she wrote. “During the discussion, I made an offhand jest about why I thought SPD offered the most challenging but most rewarding work of any local departments. It was never meant to impugn the hard work of a neighboring jurisdictions that keep our region safe and assist Seattle in a myriad of ways every day. I tremendously admire the work our local law enforcement does day in and day out to keep us safe.”
Police aren’t convinced, however.
“I think [Mayor Durkan] was trying to sell SPD on ‘this is where the action is,’” one officer said. “It was however quickly brought to her attention, that more than ever, SPD officers are feeling more and more like mall cops because our hands are tied for so many different reasons. This then to a respected veteran officer telling her that he feels like a mall cop in today’s environment due to our hands being tied.”
Port of Seattle officers receive higher pay compared to SPD officers, and are not as frequently exposed to anti-police sentiment. In addition, nearby Bellevue PD has offered $16,000 for lateral officers to fill vacancies.
“We’ve had seven SPD officers apply since last Tuesday,” BPD Officer Seth Tyler told KTTH.
Seattle’s police are currently locked in a contract struggle with the city.
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