Posted on August 3, 2023

Mayor’s Office Demanded Fewer White Men, Military in Seattle Police Recruitment

Jason Rantz, KTTH, July 31, 2023

After taking over recruitment efforts for the Seattle Police Department (SPD), Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office demanded the department show fewer white men and “military bearing” in recruitment materials, according to a memo exclusively obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. The document was seemingly destroyed and the Mayor’s office did not initially turn it over through a public disclosure request, as required by law.

Ben Dalgetty, a Digital Strategy Lead from the Mayor’s office, took control of SPD marketing efforts. In a March 2023 memo to SPD human resources staff titled “SPD Marketing More and Less,” Dalgetty asked for “less” images and videos of “officers who are white, male,” and “officers with military bearing.” In their place, Dalgetty asked for more “officers of color,” “officers of different genders,” and “officers who are younger.”

The memo was part of a larger effort to hire fewer white men, according to a source, and it may be illegal.


The memo caused a stir and the demand was seen by some at the SPD as discriminatory.

“I thought, ‘Are you kidding me? You put this in writing?’” one source inside the department tells The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH on the condition of anonymity. “It shows not only a lack of respect for officers, but a lack of respect for the military. They have no understanding of someone willing to put their lives on the line for their fellow man. {snip}”

The source said the intent of the mayor’s recruitment team was to hire fewer white officers and military veterans. After learning that the memo raised significant concerns, Dalgetty edited the file of the memo, effectively destroying a record that the city was obliged to maintain for public disclosure.


When Harrell announced his recruitment and retention plan in July 2022, vowing to hire 500 cops by 2027, he committed to a police department with “diverse racial and immigration backgrounds.” He called for a “new kind of officer.” This meant the recruitment strategy needed to evolve.

The intent, it turned out, appeared to mean hiring fewer white men and military veterans, which represent protected classes, at a time that the department is dangerously and desperately short of police officers. The department lost 61 officers through June 30, 2023 and only recruited 41. As exclusively reported by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, some 70% of recruitment (and retention) initiatives and programs the mayor promised to complete by 2020 are either incomplete or abandoned.

Still, the Mayor’s office focused some SPD marketing efforts on outlets meant to exclusively reach black, Hispanic, Asian Seattleites. There were no white people featured in any of the photos the city turned over as part of the marketing.

In March 2023, Dalgetty worked with SPD human resources staff to create marketing materials for an April recruitment initiative. They planned to advertise with the Seattle Medium and Urban Contemporary station KYIZ (both are promoted towards the African American community in King County), classic regional Mexican radio station El Rey, and the International Examiner, a newspaper focused on the Asian American community.


The memo offered “guidelines … for relative terms compared to previous SPD marketing efforts.” He said that he wanted to “shift the proportions of our photo/video collateral” away from featuring white male officers, and towards the younger officers of color with different genders.

He clarified to staff that the guidelines “doesn’t mean no officers who are white or male or only young officers of color,” but that’s how it was taken. The police source tells me it also revealed how little Dalgetty and his team understood about police recruiting.

“This was not their area of expertise and they didn’t understand the police department or what it took to recruit police officers,” the source explained.

After complaints from SPD, Dalgetty edited the memo several times.

In one edit, Dalgetty removed language asking for fewer images and video of white men. In another edit, he removed references to officers with military bearing. Finally, Dalgetty removed: “This doesn’t mean no officers who are white or male or only young officers of color, but guidelines to shift the proportions of our photo/video collateral to more of some things and less of others.”