Just last year, the UW Police Department (UWPD) was having issues with retention, possibly due to a “hostile environment,” according to an in-depth article by KOMO News.
One year later, things have improved.
In 2015, when the KOMO article was written, UWPD had approximately 15 patrol officers, according to public informations officer Steve Rittereiser. That number has now increased to 28 officers.
This year, just two officers have left the department, which UW Police Chief John Vinson said equates to a 6.6 percent turnover rate.
“We had a number of things that happened,” Rittereiser said, explaining that a swath of people retired in 2015 while others left for different departments. “So we faced what was essentially a crisis for the number of people we had.”
Rittereiser has been with the UWPD for five years, and said the current amount of patrol officers is the most UWPD has had since he began.
That being said, one issue has been pointed at for years now: UWPD struggles with competitive pay. Officers can earn $600-$800 more a month at another similarly sized agency in King County than at UWPD, according to Rittereiser.
Rittereiser stated the minimum starting salary for a patrol officer is $55,272 this year.
In 2012, the average yearly salary for a UWPD officer was $74,952. That number steadily increased as the years went on, going down once in 2013, to arrive at last year’s average yearly salary: $83,950.
“We continue to be an agency that falls behind our peers right now in terms of pay,” Rittereiser said.