Seattle police hope to meet hiring goal
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle Police Department started the year with 20 fewer hires than expected, but officials say a flurry of recent recruits makes them confident they will meet their goals this year.
The City Council had budgeted money to put more officers on the street in 2007 and in future years.
"The biggest roadblock is getting people interested," said Lt. Gregg Caylor, who called it a national problem that even higher-paying police departments are facing. "The other challenge is retention and keeping the people we want here."
The Police Department made 60 new hires last year, below its goal of 80. The department's total staff of 1,270 stayed about the same because fewer officers retired than expected.
The City Council set aside money to hire 10 new recruits in 2007 and 20 more in 2008. Mayor Greg Nickels says he wants to add another 20 officers a year through 2012.
"Obviously this is a big challenge," said Councilmember Tim Burgess, chair of the public safety committee. "We've appropriated the funds and we would like to see them hired."
The department has set even more aggressive recruiting goals for 2008, and hopes to enroll 88 new recruits in the police academy, double the number it attracted in 2006.
Caylor is optimistic the department will meet its hiring goals this year because of a strong start.
Last month, the department made 33 hires and he expects 14 more to accept in the next week.
"We're open to any ideas to bring in any recruits we can but we are not lowering our standards," he said.
The department has started traveling around the country to find candidates, and sent recruiters to Hawaii for a job fair. Caylor said the department also started advertising on Internet job sites, which resulted in more candidates. Entrance examinations are now held monthly instead of quarterly.
Nickels added money to give new hires $5,000 bonuses; new recruits also receive uniform and equipment vouchers, and moving expenses of $5,000. Department employees who refer successful candidates can earn $1,000 bonuses.
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or email@example.com
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