Last year, as part of an effort to hire 105 new officers by 2011, the Seattle Police Department planned to recruit 80 new cops. They got 55. That means the SPD will have to redouble its efforts to recruit new officers in 2008.
But recruiting has always been a daunting task for Seattle police—in 2006, SPD hired just 45 new officers—and it has been made even more so by the strong job market, the war in Iraq, and pay that can't compare to that in many other West Coast cities, like San Francisco, Oakland, and even Edmonds, where officer pay starts at $4,401 a month—compared to $3,849 in Seattle.
"I think we need to look at our compensation package overall and make sure we're competitive with other jurisdictions," says Tim Burgess, head of the city council's public safety committee. Last month, to that end, the council agreed on a $5,000 signing bonus for new recruits.
The police guild, for its part, has said part of the reason for poor recruitment numbers is that the union is operating without a contract; officers are currently working under a contract that expired last year. Nick Licata, head of the council's new labor policy committee, says while that argument "may have some validity," another possible reason for the low numbers is high recruitment standards, which mandate, for example, that officers "have not used marijuana in the last three years." ERICA C. BARNETT
Hey, kids! Those old fogey senators in Olympia are actually working in your interests.
Sex! Senator Karen Keiser (D-33, Kent) introduced a bill that would prevent pharmacies from withholding Plan B from customers. Free Speech! Senator Joe McDermott (D-34, West Seattle) introduced a bill that would raise the bar on high-school administrators for censoring student papers. No Homework! Senator Marilyn Rasmussen (D-2, Eatonville) introduced a bill that would scratch WASL as a graduation requirement for now. NANCY DREW