The Mayor’s Office, in partnership with the Seattle Police Department (SPD), convened a workgroup comprised of the Innovation & Performance team, Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR), Central Budget Office (CBO), and City Council to perform a deep dive into the challenges SPD is currently facing recruiting and retaining officers. Like many other agencies across the country, SPD is experiencing a decrease in the number of people applying to become police officers despite increased hiring demands. The SPD Recruitment and Retention Workgroup kicked off in February 2019 and was tasked over the course of six months to evaluate national best practices, conduct in-depth research and data analysis of current trends, and then to recommend short- and long-term strategies to increase the number of annual new hires and decrease voluntary separations.
Seattle is following in the path of other major cities, such as Baltimore and Los Angeles, by leveraging their Innovation & Performance teams (i-teams) to partner with their police departments to better understand recruitment, hiring, and retention challenges. Seattle, like Baltimore and Los Angeles, adopted a two-prong approach which leverages in-depth quantitative analysis of trends with a more qualitative human-centered design approach. The human-centered design approach complements traditional quantitative data analysis by involving those most impacted (in this case prospective hires, candidates, and staff) in all steps of the problem-solving process. Deeply understanding the needs and requirements of our officers will help us build more effective programs going forward. In practice, this meant Seattle’s i-team spent considerable time in March and April interviewing job seekers, prospective recruits, applicants, SPD rank and file, City staff, entities connected to SPD, and local and national subject matter experts to better understand how applicants and hires navigate their systems. The officer surveys requested in this public disclosure request are from this research effort.
The i-team then synthesized the quantitative and qualitative data into summative insights. These insights were brought back to the stakeholders engaged in March and April to solicit their recommendations for how SPD might expand recruitment efforts, increase the number of applicants, and retain officers. The Workgroup is reviewing recommendations and will spend the next month testing and refining ideas to identify a portfolio of short- and long-term strategies to deploy. Final recommendations will be documented in a report in early fall 2019.