Seattle City Council approves police contract despite calls for delayed vote



(The Center Square) – The Seattle City Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to approve a new contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild that provides retroactive pay increases for the past three years.

Seattle police officers will soon see a compounded 24% wage increase as a result of the contract’s approval. More specifically, officers will see increases of 1.3% retroactive to 2021, 6.4% retroactive to 2022, and 15.3% retroactive to 2023. These wage increases are the first for Seattle police officers in three years.

“This vote illustrates the positive sea change in the governance of our great city,” Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said in a statement on social media.

The retro-payments will tack on an additional $57 million to the general fund and $39 million in ongoing costs for a total of $96 million this year alone.

Seattle city leaders are already facing a projected $245 million budget deficit next year that has already led to library closures and hiring freezes.

The newly-approved contract only covers the first three years of a potential four-year contract, meaning upcoming negotiations for the year 2024 continue with the assistance of a mediator. According to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Office, contract talks include efforts to strengthen police accountability, civilian alternatives, and other items based on input from community partners.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, the lone opposing vote, requested the vote on the contract be delayed to allow time for community members to provide feedback.

“This is a negotiated contract that asks taxpayers to pay $96 million for back-salaries and benefits and there are several accountability flaws in this contract,” Morales said in the city council meeting on Tuesday.

She added that the agreement fails to implement the 2017 accountability reforms approved by the city in multiple ways.

The city council refused her motion to delay the vote.

Fellow councilmember Rob Saka said that while the contract is “imperfect,” it creates more competitive pay to improve the rate of applicants.

Councilmember Bob Kettle said the contract shows a commitment to the Seattle Police Department and helps address the department’s staffing shortage.

The Seattle Police Department has lost nearly a net of 340 fully trained officers since 2019, with the force now at its lowest staffing level since the late 1990s.

Some citizens in attendance of the city council meeting shouted, “Shame!” and “Where’s the transparency?” as the vote was taken.

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