Washington Changes Law To Help Fill Police Openings

    Seattle, the largest city in Washington, is currently in the spotlight for adopting a trend familiar across many Democratic-led cities. This trend involves combating the shortage of police officers by inviting applications from migrant individuals, especially those who entered the country illegally as children and are now registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or the ‘Dreamers’ program. Over the past five years, Seattle, with a population of 750,000, has seen a reduction in its police force by 725 officers, leaving only 913 officers in active service.

    This initiative by the city’s police department has stirred some controversy. A law enacted earlier this year by the city’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee stipulates that DACA applicants who are multilingual could be favored over other candidates with similar qualifications. This has led to questions about the fairness of the selection process. A renowned radio host voiced his opinion on the matter, stating: ‘I think if you have anyone who is qualified and willing to do the job, including qualified Americans who speak another language, they should be treated just as equally as everybody else.’

    These developments are occurring amidst a backdrop of growing crime rates in Seattle. Between 2019 and 2024, the city observed an overall increase in crime by 8 percent, with assault cases rising by 21 percent and murders escalating by a striking 78 percent.

    The Seattle Police Department’s leadership has also been under scrutiny, particularly with the recent departure of police chief Adrian Diaz. Diaz faced accusations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Before Diaz’s departure, a retiring officer, Lieutenant Jessica Taylor, who served the department for 23 years, criticized his leadership in a scathing resignation letter. Taylor accused Diaz of controlling, bullying, and gaslighting, asserting that his style of leadership amplified the city’s issues.

    The city had to deal with a $5 million claim raised by four female officers in April relating to alleged ‘grooming’, ‘active sexism’, and ‘predatory behavior’. Amidst the controversy, Diaz publicly identified himself as ‘a gay Latino man’.

    In related news, President Joe Biden has committed to simplifying access to work visas for DACA recipients who have earned a degree from a US college or university and have secured a high-skilled job offer. He has also encouraged Congress to grant these individuals permanent status.

    Seattle’s initiative reflects similar measures seen in other cities such as Illinois, Colorado, and California, which have also enacted laws allowing DACA recipients to apply for law enforcement roles. Notable cases include Ernesto Antonio Moron Uribe, a DACA recipient, who joined California’s UC Davis Police Department in February. Another DACA recipient, Mitchell Soto Rodriguez, recently shared his experience in the Blue Island police department in Chicago before the Senate Judiciary Committee.



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