The mostly white, mostly sober face of the Seattle Police Department is changing. More Seattle police officers may have more melanin and more cannabinol according to new hiring guidelines issued today.
The force is currently 76% white. In the next five years, at least 300 police officers need to be hired to replace those finishing out their careers. The department says it's partnering with Atlantic Street Center, Filipino Community of Seattle and El Centro De La Raza in order to hire more people of color.
Policy on pot has also been changed. Previously, anyone who'd used marijuana more than 25 times or smoked in the past three years was disqualified. Interim Chief Jim Pugel softened the restrictions, so that new recruits are only barred from having smoked marijuana in the year prior to hiring.
I didn't understand the thinking behind this, until Sergeant Whitcomb from SPD explained: "Keep in mind, if they smoked seven or six months ago, they would have been doing it when it was illegal...so we wanted to make sure that the relaxed hiring standards are reflective of and driven by I-502."
SPD doesn't want to eliminate good candidates for doing something that's legal in Washington, Whitcomb said. He said to expect the pot policy will be reevaluated in December. By then, it will have been a year since marijuana was legalized and "state distribution will be up and running."
Imagine: cops speaking at a pot rally! It's happening this Saturday, when both Pugel and Whitcomb will be speaking, along with our own Dominic Holden, at the Cannibas Freedom March. Find all the details in our handy News and Politics Events calendar.