Seattle’s mayor apparently considers white male police officers a bad look for his city as his office ordered that SPD feature fewer “officers who are white, male” in recruitment materials.
Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office has been accused of discrimination following a memo directing the Seattle Police Department to limit the number of white male officers and those with military backgrounds in recruitment photos/videos.
The document was part of Harrell’s diversity and inclusion strategy to address SPD’s recruitment challenges, according to a Fox News report.
The mayor’s suggested preference for more images and videos representing officers of color, younger officers and different genders met with sharp criticism.
Digital strategy lead for Harrell’s office Ben Dalgetty reportedly authored the contentious memo, which has reportedly been destroyed, according to a My Northwest report.
MyNorthwest’s report added the mayor’s office did not initially turn it over through a public disclosure request, as required by law.
Seattle police condemned the mayor’s preference to showcase people of color in department marketing material.
“What I condemn and will forever continue to push back on is the verbiage within the recruitment document that calls for less of white male officers,” Officer Mike Solan said in a statement to Seattle radio host Jason Rantz.
Solan is the president of Seattle’s Police Officer’s Guild.
“This is flat-out discrimination,” exclaimed Solan in his statement. “It is an affront to decency, reasonableness and further divides our communities.”
“When politics is intentionally inserted into the public safety policing conversation, we all lose,” he added. “It is embarrassing, shameful, and detrimental to a healthy functioning society.”
The controversy eventually led to edits to the original memo by the mayor’s office. Still, some SPD officials reportedly expressed their dissatisfaction with the changes.
“I thought, ‘Are you kidding me? You put this in writing?'” one SPD source reportedly said.
“It shows not only a lack of respect for officers, but a lack of respect for the military,” he added. “They have no understanding of someone willing to put their lives on the line for their fellow man.”
“The Jason Rantz Show” reported its public records request for the original memo went unanswered for months before the mayor’s office provided an updated version.
A public disclosure officer wrongly claimed the original of the document could not be recovered after the edits had been made.
The original memo was finally provided through a public records request, highlighting the extent of the controversy surrounding this issue, Fox News reported.
SPD recruitment initiatives have encountered several challenges, and many have remained unfinished or abandoned.
This raises questions about the effectiveness of the department’s current recruitment strategies and the impact of this memo on these efforts.
Hiring fewer white men and military veterans seems shortsighted since the department is dangerously short of police officers.
The department lost 61 officers through June 30, 2023, and only recruited 41, according to the MyNorthwest report.