In this July 25, 2020 photo, smoke rises as police clash with protester during a Black Lives Matter protest near the Seattle Police East Precinct headquarters. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

In this July 25, 2020 photo, smoke rises as police clash with protester during a Black Lives Matter protest near the Seattle Police East Precinct headquarters. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Bonuses, discontent bring wave of Seattle cops to Snohomish County

Everett increased incentives up to $30,000 for “lateral” hires — officers with policing experience — on Wednesday.

EVERETT — Since the start of 2020, dozens of police officers have left their old jobs to come to Snohomish County departments.

For local agencies, lateral hires from other departments are enticing. Officers need less training (read: they cost less) and bring experience from day one.

“And so we, we as in the agency and we as in the community, definitely benefit from hiring officers that bring with them those law enforcement years of experience,” Everett police Chief Dan Templeman told city councilmembers Wednesday afternoon.

It can take nine months to a year before departments know if an entry-level officer will be a good fit for their department. In that time, prospective officers still get paid. In Mukilteo, four new recruits were hired in 2020. Only two are still there, said the department’s Acting Assistant Chief Andy Illyn.

Local departments are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to recruit officers as they say they battle attrition.

Over the past two years, one came to Everett from Nebraska. Another came to Mukilteo from Georgia. Yet another came to Arlington from Dallas. There were more local laterals, like a couple officers who moved up Highway 203 from Duvall to Monroe.

Last month, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office hired six lateral deputies, Sheriff Adam Fortney wrote on Facebook. He said he’d never seen that many lateral hires at one time.

The biggest exporter of officers over the last two years has been the Seattle Police Department.

And the biggest reason they left? Frustrations over Seattle politics.

Many departed in the wake of mass protests for racial justice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020.

Exit interviews obtained by The Daily Herald through public records requests shed light on why Seattle officers left for smaller departments in Snohomish County. They offer rare insight into the minds of police personnel, who are often more guarded about their personal politics.

“You could pay me twice what you are paying me now and I would not work for Seattle under this current political mayhem, Marxist collaborations and lack of government and police leadership,” wrote officer TJ San Miguel, who now works for Marysville.

Consistently, former Seattle officers think their new departments have more public support.

San Miguel wrote that Marysville “is a city of reasonable people who do not cave to mainstream media hype.”

Officer Matthew Kruse wrote in his voluntary exit interview that he was moving to Lynnwood where “the city council members and mayor support law enforcement.”

Seattle Police officers confer after taking part in a public roll call at Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District on March 18, 2021. Seattle’s police department is having detectives and non-patrol staff respond to emergency calls because of a shortage of officers union leaders fear will be made worse by COVID-19 vaccine mandates. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Seattle Police officers confer after taking part in a public roll call at Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District on March 18, 2021. Seattle’s police department is having detectives and non-patrol staff respond to emergency calls because of a shortage of officers union leaders fear will be made worse by COVID-19 vaccine mandates. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Cops said morale in Seattle was low. They needed a change. That said, a couple officers who moved north have already returned to the Seattle Police Department.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County cities are rolling out the red carpet to bring in officers who are already trained and ready to join the force. Everett, for example, upped its already hefty $20,000 incentive for in-state lateral hires to $25,000. Those coming from outside Washington will get $20,000, increased from $15,000. And there’s a new bonus for less-experienced officers. For those who have finished training, but have less than two years as an officer, they’ll get $15,000 for signing up with Everett.

It pays to have experience, though. Anyone with more than five years of service time gets an extra $5,000 tacked onto other incentives. So an in-state officer with experience could be looking at a $30,000 sweetener to come here.

But wait, there’s more. These new officers are also entitled to a bounty of 80 hours of automatic vacation time and 80 hours of sick time.

The city council approved the beefed-up incentives in a 6-1 vote Wednesday afternoon.

Everett police recently tripled its group of background investigators researching applicants to assist in the hiring process. The department has 17 openings in a force of 215, officer Aaron Snell said.

And sensing other cities could try to draw them away, Everett is also working to retain the officers it already has. The city council also unanimously passed a 2% bonus for existing officers. That will set the city back nearly $450,000.

Marysville has advertised up to $20,000 incentives, and in the heat of a debate over a vaccine mandate for law enforcement, encouraged an unvaccinated state trooper to apply. Noting the financial incentives, Everett police’s recruitment officer also tried to lure the trooper.

In Lake Stevens, laterals could get $10,000. Mukilteo: $15,000. Lynnwood: $20,000.

It’s a seller’s market, noted Illyn, of Mukilteo.

“If you’re a commissioned police officer,” he said, “you can kind of get hired anywhere in the state right now.”

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

 

Read what departing Seattle officers wrote as they left for Snohomish County:

 

 

 

 

 

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