Seattle Council Candidate: Lewis voted out ‘would be a fantastic consolation prize’

24 July 2023

Seattle’s frantic weekend — featuring a Mariners’ homestand against the Toronto Blue Jays, the return of Bite of Seattle, the Capitol Hill Block Party, and two nights of Taylor Swift shows — stretched the city’s already thin police force to new levels of bare, leaving the city as vulnerable as ever.

“It’s been continually more difficult to do our jobs on a daily basis with fewer and fewer assets available to us,” Seattle Police Department (SPD) Officer and City Council candidate Aaron Marshall told Jason Rantz on KTTH 770 AM. “When I first started, there were five ACT teams throughout the city and now we’re one CRG (community response group) city-wide with 20 officers, five sergeants, and one lieutenant. So being a proactive unit is fantastic, but having the few numbers that we have can be difficult.”

Marshall is a candidate for Seattle City Council’s District 7 seat — occupied by incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who is seeking a second term — and has stressed police staffing as one of Seattle’s most significant priorities for his campaign.

More on Aaron Marshall: Seattle cop running for city council: ‘It’s where I’m most needed’

Marshall is currently on a two-week absence to focus on his campaign full-time.

“I would like to see the retention of current officers be something of a priority for this department,” Marshall said. “But also the recruiting of new officers has to be up there as well, that you have to have a good 50-50 mix. I’m not really sure if we’re doing that as effectively as we could. I would like to see as a citizen, far more officers out on the street, and especially at night.”

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is down approximately 50% of staffing minimums in patrol, while special events staffing is down around 40%, according to the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).

Multiple sources told The Jason Rantz Show that many officers either called out sick or did not show up for work this weekend. Patrols were hit especially hard with just around 40 to 50 officers on duty. That number is normally around 65 to 70, which is also low due to the general lack of SPD staffing.

The city council rejected an ordinance last month that would have given City Attorney Ann Davison the authority to prosecute people for public drug use or possession. The Seattle City Attorney’s Office has not had the power to prosecute drug cases since 2012, according to Mayor Bruce Harrell. Councilmember Lewis was the tiebreaking vote, stating he could not vote for the measure because it did not outline enough treatment options or diversion programs as alternatives to jail time, infuriating certain city representatives and residents in the process.

More on SPD callouts: Rantz: ‘Sick out’ likely gutted Seattle police weekend patrol, special events

“I don’t believe he’s going to make it through the primaries,” Marshall said. “I’ve just been campaigning for the last two, three months, and I haven’t had one person come up to me and sing his praises. It’s quite the opposite. Just get him out of office. And while I certainly want to win the city council seat, that would be a fantastic consolation prize.”

Rantz claimed it would be “somewhat unprecedented” if Lewis failed to make it through the primaries.

SPOG, which represents about 80 police lieutenants and captains, has been negotiating a police management contract with the city since last summer. SPOG has been operating without a contract since 2020, something Marshall would want addressed if he becomes a Seattle council member.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here

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