The memo dated March 23 was penned by Ben Dalgetty, a digital strategy lead from the mayor's office overseeing the SPD's marketing efforts. He put Harrell's wishes in writing through the memo, asking for "less" images and videos of "officers who are White [and] male" and "officers with military bearing." Dalgetty instead asked for more "officers of color," those of "different genders" and "younger" police officers.
According to a source within the SPD, the memo was part of a larger effort to hire fewer police officers who are White and are military veterans. However, it caused a stir among the ranks of law enforcement within the Emerald City. The source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: "I thought, 'Are you kidding me? You put this in writing?'"
"It shows not only a lack of respect for officers, but a lack of respect for the military. They have no understanding of someone willing to put their lives on the line for their fellow man. They don't have respect."
In July 2022, Harrell announced his recruitment and retention plan. Alongside his commitment to hire 500 cops by 2027, the mayor promised an SPD with "diverse racial and immigration backgrounds." The endeavor called for a "new kind of officer," which led to a shift in its recruitment strategy – at the cost of hiring fewer White men and military veterans.
According to KTTH 770, the SPD lost 61 officers through June 30 of this year and only recruited 41. Despite this, the mayor's office focused the police department's recruitment efforts to exclusively reach Black, Hispanic and Asian residents. Under Dalgetty's purview, staff members at SPD's human resources section planned to advertise with media outlets whose market focuses on each of those ethnicities. (Related: Police "reform" laws will FORCE cops to have "racial quotas" for detaining a certain number of Asians, whites and women.)
Following reports that the memo raised significant concerns within the SPD, Dalgetty proceeded to edit the memo – effectively destroying a record that the city was obliged to maintain for public disclosure.
In one edit, Dalgetty removed language asking for fewer images and video of white men. In another edit, he removed references to officers with military bearing. Finally, Dalgetty removed this explanation: "This doesn't mean no officers who are white or male or only young officers of color, but guidelines to shift the proportions of our photo/video collateral to more of some things and less of others."
According to the police source, the memo revealed how little Dalgetty and his team understood about police recruiting. The tipster said: "This was not their area of expertise and they didn't understand the police department or what it took to recruit police officers."
While the leaked memo pertained to marketing materials, it could bite back Emerald City should anyone make a legal claim of discrimination. Labor and employment attorney Joshua Brittingham said the memo "focuses on images for marketing purposes" and could protect the SPD from legal liability.
"Employment laws prohibit refusing to hire, terminating or discriminating against any person in wages or in other terms or conditions of employment based on race and veteran/military status," he stressed. "In the event of such discrimination – for example, an officer demoted or fired because he was White or a veteran – the memo might be used as evidence to demonstrate illegal discriminatory intent."
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan denounced the memo's wording. "When politics is intentionally inserted into the public safety policing conversation, we all lose," he noted. "This is flat-out discrimination, period. It is an affront to decency, reasonableness and further divides our communities."
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