Spokane Police Department facing staff shortages

SPOKANE, Wash. — Property crimes are up and there has been a rash of drive-by shootings.

Spokane Police say they are doing the best they can, but are feeling the effects of being understaffed.

The department is down about 50 officers and is moving them around to make sure there is enough coverage on priorities liek patrol.

“Like everybody in law enforcement, we have people that retire. Through attrition, and change of career, they leave, so I think we’re starting to see that more and more now, so our numbers are down and so we are short,” said Lieutenant Steve Wohl, SPD Training Director.

Only 13 positions of their 356-person staff need to be filled immediately, but they are looking for more.

“We’re not at that point where we’re in dire straits, right? But we want to make sure we’re ahead of the curve, and we’re very progressive here in Spokane in that we are hoping to keep our numbers up and anticipating those retirements so we never get below where we need to be safe and be able to provide the resources to the citizens,” Wohl said.

SPD is competing with other law enforcement agencies nationwide. According to the National Police Institute, 86 percent of departments had a staffing shortage in 2020.

“It’s challenging because we’re all looking at the same applicants right? But different agencies provide different opportunities,” Wohl said.

The new grant SPD just received is from the Washington State Criminal Justice Commission. The department is using it to help with recruitment, like traveling across Washington and to other states to talk to college students.

“It’s challenging because we’re all looking at the same applicants right? But different agencies provide different opportunities,” Wohl said.

Those interested in applying to be an officer can do so here. 

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