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Seattle police used more than $350K in overtime to cover pro-Palestinian protests

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(The Center Square) – The Seattle Police Department is continuing to exceed its overtime budget as a result of its staffing crisis, including more than $350,000 in overtime costs to cover pro-Palestinian protests in Seattle over 51 days.

In 2023, SPD spent approximately $39.6 million on overtime, which is over the $31.3 million dedicated in the annual budget. The department had to cover the spending deficit by transferring salary savings from vacant sworn officer positions.

The Center Square recently received data related to the use of police overtime to cover the pro-Palestinian protest that was requested back in November 2023. The data revealed that for the period of Oct.7, 2023 – Nov. 27, 2023, SPD officers worked 3,879 hours of overtime at a cost of $363,284 associated with protests.

The $363,284 spent on overtime in 51 days represents only 1% of the department’s 2023 overtime spending.

Protesters gathered in downtown Seattle on a consistent basis immediately following Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel that occurred on Oct. 7, 2023. The attack claimed the lives of some 1,200 people and resulted in more than 200 people being taken hostage. Israel’s retaliation in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of around 38,000 Palestinians, according to data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Between 2022 and 2024, SPD’s overtime budget grew by $11.3 million, a 43% increase from $26.4 million in 2022 to $37.7 million this year. All the while, the department yielded approximately half of its annual hiring targets in the last two year, reaching a high of only 61 hires out of 1,948 applications in 2023, a conversion rate of 3%.

SPD is on track to exceed its 2024 overtime budget, as previously reported by The Center Square.

The Center Square reached out to the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild for comment on SPD’s overtime use for covering protests, but did not receive a response by the time of this publication.

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