(The Center Square) – The Seattle City Council has approved legislation to accelerate police hiring amid a continuing staffing shortage.

Council Bill 120766 will transfer positions from the Seattle Department of Human Resources to the Seattle Police Department and create a recruitment and retention program within the police department. The new program will work to implement new practices and innovative recruitment approaches in order to boost SPD’s staffing levels.

The department has realized a net loss of 337 fully-trained police officers since 2020, with 911 response times having increased as a result.

According to the city, in the last two years, the Seattle Police Department met approximately half of its annual hiring targets, reaching a high of only 61 hires out of 1,948 applications in 2023, a conversion rate of 3%.

“This bill to streamline recruiting and hiring, working along other efforts, will give the Seattle Police Department the tools it needs to reverse that dangerous trend,” Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson said in a statement.

With the transfer of three positions to the SPD, the ordinance adds an ongoing general fund cost of approximately $146,000, while the city works to handle a $245 million general fund deficit.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales proposed an amendment that requires SPD to regularly report on what it’s doing to address gender discrimination and its efforts to implement the 30×30 initiative, which serves to increase representation of women in law enforcement.

The 30×30 Initiative is a coalition of police leaders, researchers, and professional organizations across the U.S. that work to advance the representation of women in policing agencies.

A recent 30×30 report was released that showed women at the Seattle Police Department describing gender discrimination and sexual harassment happening within the department.

Last month, four female police officers filed a $5 million tort claim against the Seattle Police Department, alleging sex discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

Morales’ amendment was approved by the city council on Tuesday.

“It’s time for the behavior described by women at SPD to end — full stop – now, my amendment will mandate this,” Morales said.

Council Bill 120766 now goes to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell for his signature.