It’s City Hall’s job to keep our community safe, and they clearly haven’t been up to the task. As a dad, I worry every day about my community and the ways we have put so many of our most vulnerable in danger.
Unlike my counterpart, I have a real public safety plan rooted in facts, and am not planning to cut off the sources that fund prevention, policing, behavioral health, and drug treatment. That’s why I’m endorsed by the actual folks working on public safety or most affected by it.
Notable Public Safety Endorsements:
- Teamsters 117 - which represents, among others, corrections workers.
- Theresa Doyle - Retired King County Superior Court and Retired Seattle Municipal Court Judge, Trial Judge of the Year, Washington State Association for Justice
- Lisa Daugaard–founder of LEAD, Cofounder/Executive Director of nationally renowned recovery programs that work with police like LEAD, nonviolent emergency response systems like JustCare, Macarthur Genius Award Recipient for her work in public safety
- Dom Davis - Executive Director of Community Passageways, one of Seattle’s effective violence reduction and youth diversion programs
- Girmay Zahilay - King County Councilmember who has led the charge on reducing gun violence, addressing behavioral health issues in our communities, and facing down our inequitable approach
- ATU Local 587 (Transportation Workers Union) endorsed me because their bus drivers are scared and on the front lines daily, and I have an actual plan.
I’ve also received four stars from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and am their only “Approved Candidate” in this race, and I am also the only candidate to receive Moms Demand Action’s “Gun Sense Candidate” distinction.
Public safety is a complex problem. Here are the steps to tackle it.
We cannot wait for root-cause investments to pay off.
But we still do need to invest in root causes, or we will always be playing catch up. After decades of letting special interests and ideologues dictate policy, we have unfortunately embraced approaches that create crime. We need to stop concentrating poverty in a few neighborhoods and planning in a way that makes homelessness so much more likely. We need to fully fund the social services that bring opportunity into people’s lives and the behavioral health services that keep people out of crisis. This includes funding more onsite therapists for students in schools–which will prevent violence and self-harm.
Some crime prevention gets us a faster return.
For instance, investment in evidence-based violence interruption investments like community violence intervention cuts gun violence much more quickly. Community Passageways is a great example. But these kinds of services are always on the chopping block when a few big corporate lobbyists control the conversation about our city budget, something they are attempting to do yet again. Programs like this are proven to reduce violence quickly, and we need to invest in them and provide significant administrative and research support to help them grow throughout the city. We should also destroy confiscated firearms and prevent firearms from getting into the hands of high-risk individuals.
Staff and quickly deliver the right response for each crisis or crime
For SPD staffing–we need to ensure we staff up the department.
And we need to be realistic about what is possible. Whatever your politics, there has been a massive exodus from the policing profession across the nation. That has made it impossible for almost any department in the country to grow much–even with turned-up salaries and bonuses.
(Note: my opponent made a brazen, false statement at a forum that I previously supported defunding the police. This is not only plainly and demonstrably false, but it’s a part of a pattern of false statements that suggest my opponent lacks the honesty for the job and can’t find anything in my actual platform to criticize, so needs to rely on making things up. I’ve added it to my fact-checking page.)
Our own police department has said it cannot significantly grow the number of uniformed police officers due to the nationwide shortage in the police pipeline. 85% of police departments in Washington State are below their hiring target, and the problem is acute in our medium-sized cities like Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma. We’re deeper in the hole in Seattle, where we are down 27% from our hiring peak. But the entire country is struggling with hiring–including red cities like Tusla, Memphis, and Fulton County (Atlanta), which are off from their peak by comparable amounts to Seattle. We can do better, but we cannot do magic.
So when SPD says the best case scenario is to grow by 15 to 30 officers and my opponent makes magical promises to conjure 400 officers out of thin air–I’d encourage my reader to think carefully. We need a steady hand, not flailing pronouncements that we will do 20x what is possible. The last thing we need right now is more unhinged theatrics and plans based on fantasies. We need real results.
Stand up and scale a behavioral health crisis response team for appropriate 911 calls.
SPD has said 12% of its calls could be handed off to a behavioral health response team–and an independent audit said the number was much higher. In any case, Seattle has been very clear with its leaders that it wants it, and it is a failure of leadership that this hasn’t been delivered. Taking this load off can free up police time to respond more quickly, intervene in violent situations, property destruction, and theft, and investigate sex crimes.
When my opponent says there is “no excuse” that we haven’t built this–and refuses to commit to any new funding to fill in the $200M gap faced by our general fund (which is the source of funding for this kind of programming), she seems to assume that citizens aren’t smart enough to do the math.
I will always be honest with you about the realistic tradeoffs we face.
Automate Traffic Enforcement
Most traffic enforcement should be automatic and camera-enforced. Traffic stops are where a great deal of racial bias has shown up in policing, and this can be automated to help an overstretched workforce. We just need to ensure we do not over-enforce in already marginalized neighborhoods and that we put civil liberties safeguards in place to avoid moving toward inappropriate citizen surveillance.
Allow and encourage all first responders to administer Narcan for drug overdoses.
This is allowed in hundreds of cities around the country, and even citizens can do it here. But we currently have made it so we take up police time unnecessarily and delay the use of this life-saving medicine. It would be an easy fix.
Police should then be able to respond to situations that are more directly related to their expertise- impending violence, violence in progress, the destruction of storefronts, organized theft, break-ins, hate crimes, and investigating sex crimes.
Ensure policing is accountable and that SPD has a healthy relationship with the community.
Unfortunately, as the recent body-cam footage from some of our Police Union’s leaders reminded us–and as noted by the judge overseeing our consent decree with the Justice Department for a history of racialized policing and violence at SPD–we have a unique problem with police accountability in this city.
While many other departments around the region and country are taking healthy steps toward better relationships with their populations, we have not made progress–and this problem long predates 2020.
Good governance requires real oversight. Everyone needs a boss. I was a CEO, and I had a board and investors. The President has Congress. The military has the President and Secretary of Defense.
To get SPD to a healthier state, we need a fully independent civilian oversight board with no conflict of interest. It cannot be staffed by a person’s buddies or coworkers–we would never allow this in any other situation. That board should have easy access to information and subpoena power to ensure its ability to render discipline.
Relationship with the Community
A healthy relationship with the community is key to effective policing. It increases information sharing by community members and responsiveness by the police. The accountability measures described above are a key step to building trust in the community.
But that’s not all we can do. We know that de-escalation training is an effective method for all first responders and results in better outcomes. And that community policing is an effective way to build relationships in the community.
Rehabilitate people whenever possible to prevent re-offense.
Our criminal legal system sometimes serves as a deterrent or a way of separating dangerous individuals from the community. But it also has served as a breeding ground for deeper criminality. We need to be thoughtful about the punishments we inflict and ensure they are evidence-based and have the highest likelihood of reducing re-offense and of restoring people to healthy lives in the community
We have decades of evidence that healthy policing prevents crime and that focused, evidence-based practice in the justice system can significantly reduce reoffending rates for certain crimes. We need to prioritize actual safety and use 21st-century, science-based practices, not use the justice system as a way to briefly vent our anger at defendants and create lifelong repeat offenders.
What about Drugs?
Drugs are also a huge community safety issue all well. They are such an issue that they deserve their own page.