Seattle mayoral candidate Sen. Ed Murray said today he would hire 100 new police officers to help address crime in the city and rebuild the ranks of the force, after numbers have fallen over the past four years with retirements and a police hiring freeze because of city budget cuts. The remarks represented a contrast with Mayor Mike McGinn, who has proposed funding 15 new officers in 2014.
Murray’s plan calls for 25 new officers each year for the next four years, above attrition. He said the staffing levels are below similarly sized cities at the same time Seattle continues to grow.
Murray’s call for more police came at the annual breakfast in support of Real Change, the advocacy newspaper for homeless and low-income people. McGinn and Murray were featured speakers and addressed half-a-dozen questions about poverty, social services and homelessness posed by moderator C.R. Douglas of Q13 FOX news.
McGinn said police are not the solution and again questioned whether there was a downtown crime problem. He accused The Seattle Times of manufacturing a summer crime spike to undermine his candidacy. He said the enforcement-only model failed in the national War on Drugs and that he has brought people together around his Center City Initiative to tackle the root causes of crime, disorder and untreated mental illness.
Murray said he would not hire new officers until they have the training and skills to avoid problems including bias and excessive use of force, two issues identified by the Department of Justice in its settlement agreement with the city and the SPD.
“I hear it constantly from people who go downtown. They’re hassled or intimidated or mugged. These are not law-and-order, lock em up folks. These are liberal Democrats.”More