Report: SPD officers worked 20K hours of overtime during events in 2022 so far

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The Seattle Police Department’s spending on overtime has nearly doubled this year, according to a report presented during the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety & Human Services Committee meeting Tuesday.

According to the report, which measures data on SPD spending, 8% of SPD’s budget was spent on overtime staffing from January to March 2022, compared to 4% of the budget from January to March 2021.

The three biggest drivers of overtime spending are patrol operations, citywide events — including those held at Seattle Center — and sporting events.

“When we are spending 20,000 hours of Seattle Police overtime on things that shouldn’t require a badge and gun officer, like traffic control for sporting events, instead of prioritizing patrol and investigations, we need to rethink how we’re deploying officers,” said council member Andrew Lewis in a tweet Tuesday.

While the report did not include the exact number of overtime hours worked at all events citywide, council member Sara Nelson said she was told that the hours for events during the first quarter of 2022 totaled 23,000 hours.

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From January to March 2022, SPD officers worked about 4,100 hours of overtime at Seattle Kraken games, at a cost of about $382,000.

The number of hours worked by SPD officers at sporting events for other Seattle teams was not provided during the committee meeting.

According to city council staff, SPD recovers nearly 100% of costs spent on many sporting events, as the department has contracts with several teams to pay for manned posts at street closures, traffic control and other SPD operations during their games.

Reimbursement costs for other large events, including those held at Seattle Center and Climate Pledge Arena, reportedly vary from event to event and can often depend on which promoter is coordinating an event.

During the meeting, council member Teresa Mosqueda said that the council has requested SPD to look into the costs of using parking enforcement officers instead of or alongside commissioned officers during these events.

“This council has been very much — over the last two years — looking at ways to move this work to others within our city who are qualified and skilled in helping to manage traffic and ensure safety at large events,” said Mosqueda.