City Uses New Law To Fill Police Department Open Positions

The Seattle Police Department has recently experienced a significant decrease in officers, with a loss of 725 officers in the last five years.

In light of this decrease, the department has made changes to its hiring process, accepting applications from individuals who are registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, also known as “Dreamers.”

Under this program, individuals who enter the US as minors can obtain a two-year work permit and permission to stay in the country without fear of deportation. However, due to restrictions on carrying firearms, these individuals were previously unable to work in law enforcement.

But in a recent memo, the Justice Department has stated that DACA recipients can now possess duty firearms and ammunition as part of their official law enforcement duties, opening the door for them to join the police force.

This change in hiring rules has sparked controversy and criticism. Some retired officers have raised concerns about hiring individuals who have admitted to committing a felony, as illegally crossing the border is a federal crime.

Others argue that all qualified individuals, including bilingual Americans, should be treated equally in the hiring process. However, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington signed legislation in March to remove the legal barrier for former illegal child migrants to become police officers.

Seattle is not the first city to consider DACA program recipients as police officers. States like Illinois, Colorado, and California have also passed laws to allow Dreamers to apply for law enforcement jobs. And just last month, Mitchell Soto Rodriguez, who arrived from Mexico as an eight-year-old, was sworn in as an officer for the Blue Island police department in Chicago.

In his recent address to Hispanic power brokers, President Joe Biden promised to ease access to work visas for DACA recipients who have earned a degree from a US college or university and received a high-skilled job offer. He urged Congress to grant permanent status to these individuals, stating that “these have been model citizens.”

However, concerns have been raised about the impact of this change in hiring rules on public safety. With a rising crime rate in Seattle and four female officers filing a $5 million claim against the department over allegations of sexism and predatory behavior, some are questioning the leadership and decision-making of Police Chief Adrian Diaz.

His resignation last month was met with a scathing letter from a retired officer, accusing him of “failed leadership” that has “driven away talented and dedicated officers.”