Seattle’s ugly reality – do we have the resolve to avoid a similar fate?

If our own struggles to control crime and violence aren’t enough to convince Minnesotan’s how disastrous the progressive led anti-police movement has been, Seattle might provide for a convincing comparative analysis. 

The similarities are striking.  Seattle has allowed progressives to blame and attack law enforcement for the failures of society since the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  As a result, Seattle area law enforcement is experiencing a mass exodus of peace officers, a corresponding explosion in violent crime, and a net drop in population as people flee for safety.

2021 was a record year for violence in Seattle, and 2022 shows no sign of letting up.  The police department has reported a 171% increase in gunshot victims, a 33% increase in aggravated assaults, a 30 % increase in robberies, and an overall increase in violent crime of 30%. 

This excerpt from a 2022 Seattle Times article should sound eerily familiar for Minneapolis residents:

“Due to the backlash to the “defund the police” debacle, Seattle is now down 375 officers — putting the force at 1990s staffing levels, right along with the crime rate. This happened even though the city cut the police budget far less than the promised 50%. Chief Diaz said morale is so low that it’s hard to get cops to want to come work here anymore.

Last year, councilmembers reversed course and funded the hiring of 125 new officers. But Diaz told them late last month that the department has only been able to recruit and hire seven this year, while 34 more quit or retired. So the department is still shrinking as crime soars.

Meanwhile the effort to stand up an unarmed public safety force, as an alternative to militarized cops, is proceeding at about the same turgid pace as fixing the West Seattle Bridge.”

Seattle’s ratio of officers to citizens has shrunk to a woeful 1.19/1,000 residents.  Minneapolis’s ration has shrunk to 1.28/1,000.  Minnesota’s ratio sits at 1.65/1,000, while the national average has been approximately 2.5/1,000 for decades.

The former King County, WA. Sheriff saw some of these issues coming.

“We’re screwed. How long do you think it’s going to take to hire the 500 officers that SPD wants when they can barely hire five a month?”

“The sheriff’s office is down by 115. How long is it going to take to get them back up to some sort of decent staffing? You know, I hate to be pessimistic, but this is not going to go away. This is not going to go away.”

Former Sheriff John Urqhart

The Seattle Police Officer’s Guild president has offered this assessment:

“There’s been a mass exodus of policing. The profession itself is almost on its last breath. And what happens is that criminals fill the void when there’s no law enforcement, and when you connect to funding, and then you connect the reform laws that were just absolutely catastrophic to our communities, This is the sad result. And who ends up paying the price? Our communities.”

President Mike Solan

Interestingly, the Seattle mayor has begun a campaign to urge the federal government to release Seattle’s police department from the consent decree it has operated under for years.  A movement in Minnesota to place the Minneapolis Police Department under either a state or federal consent decree is in motion.  Perhaps more objection to this movement is warranted by city leadership. 

The similarities between the decline of public safety in Seattle and Minneapolis are painfully evident.    Sometimes viewing a situation faced by others helps us see our own mistakes more clearly.  Minneapolitans and Minnesotans alike would be wise to learn from the mistakes made in both Minneapolis and Seattle, and foster clear, unwavering support for law and order, so future comparisons aren’t so unnecessarily similar.