Seattle Police personnel issues trigger emergency dispatch plan
The Seattle Police Department is sending detectives and non-patrolling officers to respond to emergency calls due to a shortage of patrol officers.
The department switched to the emergency worker dispatch scenario on Wednesday due to staff shortages. The police union chief said he feared things could get worse because of COVID-19 vaccination warrants, but the city’s mayor urged the small percentage of refractories to get vaccinated, noting that officers are already required to show proof of other vaccines.
In July, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the police department was down to 250 officers. Nearly 300 more could be made redundant if they fail to meet the October 18 deadline to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“We can’t afford to lose one, that’s how desperate we are to hold on to people,” Police Union President Mike Solan said. “If we lose more officers, the public safety situation will become all the more untenable here. “
According to figures from the Seattle Mayor’s Office, 782 officers have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination, while 98 officers are requesting exemptions and 186 have not submitted documents.
Officials hope others will submit the required documents as the deadline approaches.
Durkan’s office reiterated that police, first responders and health workers statewide are required by Governor Jay Inslee to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The definition of a police officer’s job is to maintain public safety and protect the communities they serve – 88% of our Seattle Police Department staff have been vaccinated, so they can continue to do their heroic job to. save lives, ”Durkan spokesman Anthony Derrick said in a statement.
The statement says COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for first responders during the pandemic.
“Mayor Durkan sincerely hopes that anyone at risk of leaving the city or state departments will make the decision to stay by being vaccinated,” Derrick said, adding that city police are already required to be vaccinated. against hepatitis.
The staff shortage comes as the Seattle area, like other metropolitan areas in the United States, is experiencing an increase in gun violence. Fatal shootings in the first nine months of 2021 in King County, which includes Seattle, already exceed last year’s year-end total.
By the end of September, 73 people had been killed and 283 injured in shootings in King County this year, according to data from the King County District Attorney’s Project Shots Fired.
For all of 2020, there were 69 gun-related homicides and 268 non-fatal shootings in King County.
KNKX staff contributed to this report.