While Microsoft lays off thousands, at least one entity continues to hire: the Seattle Police Department. The city will sign up 80 officers this year—not as many as last year, when it took on 111 new officers, but still pretty good considering what's going on in other sectors. The hiring boom stems in part from political will. During budget planning, Mayor Greg Nickels and the City Council one-upped each other in proposals to add new officers to the street in response to community demand. But the police department is also one of those "safe" jobs that, as the The New York Times reported recently, everyone is looking for right now. It hires "in the best of economies and the worst of economies," SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb says. "We're like schoolteachers and nurses." While the police department has had problems filling positions in the past, recruiting is now "a lot easier," Whitcomb says. He attributes that not only to the lousy economy, but to the "damn good" contract scored by the Seattle Police Guild last summer, making the department the best paid in the state. Salaries start at $60,000 and rise to $79,000 after four and a half years. Even for former Microsofties, that's got to be looking pretty good right now.