Tentative Deal Would Give Seattle Police Officers Big Raises

April 3, 2024
Entry-level Seattle police officers would receive a 23% retroactive pay increase if a tentative contract agreement is approved by the city's police union.

The tentative agreement between Seattle and its largest police union would give entry-level officers a 23% raise, making them the highest paid in Washington state, according to city employees familiar with the agreement.

If approved, the raises would be retroactive to nearly three years ago, when the previous contract expired.

For a City Hall now filled with elected officials desperate to increase the size of the Seattle Police Department, the hope is a new agreement will bolster their efforts to find new officers and keep those already here. At the same time, however, provisions in the contract governing police accountability will receive sharp scrutiny from federal Judge James Robart, who is overseeing the city's consent decree to reform its department.

Members of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, which includes the city's rank-and-file officers, will now take days or weeks to review the agreement and vote it up or down. The City Council would then need to vote on the deal. The city must also prepare an analysis of the agreement within 30 days to present to Robart for his review.

Details of the contract have not been released to the public.

If approved, entry-level officers would go from earning $83,000 to over $102,000, catapulting them from 29th in salary in the state to first. Redmond currently pays the most.

Within six months of being hired, new officers could earn up to $110,000.

The raises easily would eclipse the city's last contract with the police union, which gave officers a 17% raise and cost the city an additional $65 million.

The full cost of this agreement, which comes as the city grapples with a $240 million budget deficit next year, has not been released. Its impact on that deficit will depend on how much the city has held in reserves in anticipation of its signing.

Since 2020, the Seattle Police Department has seen more than 700 officers exit. At the same time, applications to become an officer have declined as well, shrinking the deployable force from around 1,300 to just over 900 today.

Community activists urged the City Council to reject the previous contract, ratified in 2018, because they viewed it as rolling back more stringent accountability measures put into place by the council. The council nevertheless signed off on the agreement.

Robart largely agreed with the activists, promising to keep Seattle under the more-than-decadelong consent decree until it made improvements to accountability.

Then-Mayor Jenny Durkan argued in court that whatever accountability failings existed in the last contract could be fixed in the next one.

How far this contract goes in addressing Robart's concerns remains to be seen.

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(c)2024 The Seattle Times

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