Triage One

Continued Institutional Resistance to a Civilian Alternate Response Service in Seattle

Seattle Public Safety Committee Meeting

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting! Everyone is here, and we’ll be hearing about the 911 call type for civilian response report status, CM Nelson’s resolution re SPD hiring incentives and CM Herbold’s related legislation.

We had a doozy of a Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting yesterday morning.

911 Call Types and Risk Management Status Report

First the committee members listened to a presentation on the status of SPD’s 911 call analysis/risk analysis, attempting to determine which calls could be answered by a civilian response. Present for this report were Director of Public Safety Andrew Myerberg and SPD’s Brian Maxey and Loren Atherley. As you may recall, last year a NICJR report on this subject found that almost 50% of 911 calls could be eligible for a non-officer response. At that time SPD agreed on 12% of calls that could benefit from this type of response, a consensus that led to the proposal of the (now probably defunct before it even started) Triage One program.
Now, however, SPD is walking back from even that low 12% number, saying it was simply a rough estimate and that the analysis they’re doing now is much more sophisticated. So sophisticated, in fact, that instead of classifying call types into 300 call types like NICJR, they’ve broken them into 41,900 types. No, those zeroes aren’t typos. Unfortunately, SPD’s highly technical presentation was not made available to the public ahead of time and is still unavailable at the time of this publication.
This presentation raised a few salient points. First, SPD has already been working on this analysis for quite some time, and they’re still not finished. They hope to have a populated risk matrix to present to the Council in July. Meanwhile, in spite of council member encouragement to stage the work (most of the CMs seem eager to move forward after two years of unmet promises to community), Andrew Myerberg sounds reluctant to push forward with much of the work until the SPD report is entirely finished…which may be July or even later. He mentioned he might be able to provide a timeline of when the City will stand up related work groups (not, you may notice, when they might be able to launch an actual pilot program).
Second, CM Lewis brought up the excellent point that several other cities have managed to stand up successful alternate response programs without doing this complex risk analysis: most notably, the STAR program in Denver, a comparably-sized city that has had such success with STAR they’re in the process of greatly expanding it. CM Pedersen also referenced a similar pilot that launched in Oakland, CA last month. CM Lewis asked why we weren’t visiting Denver and other relevant cities and learning from the work already done there.
The answers were revealing, to say the least. Andrew Myerberg’s response was that they had been studying such programs but wanted to wait until the data analysis and risk mitigation work was done. SPD’s Brian Maxey said he’d met with Denver’s STAR and that they’d developed call center protocols for triaging calls but hadn’t done a risk assessment like SPD is doing now.
However, Brian Maxey had two reasons to offer as to why Denver’s success wasn’t relevant to Seattle. First, he said in Denver there was an organic group that said they were interested in providing such an alternate response service. To this, CM Lewis said he was aware of several such groups in Seattle and would be happy to coordinate connections in this regard. Second, Brian Maxey said STAR mostly responds to calls that police didn’t historically respond to. CM Lewis rebutted this false claim, saying that of 2700 calls answered in the STAR pilot, 2294 of those calls would have in fact been responded to by the police. For those not wanting to do the math, that’s almost 85% of the total calls answered by STAR.
Over the course of the meeting, it became increasingly clear that SPD is going to continue dragging their feet and throwing up whatever obstacles come to mind to delay or prevent any meaningful non-police alternate response from being stood up in our city. It is popular to blame the city council members for such failures, but in this case it will ultimately be up to Mayor Harrell as to whether we push through this resistance and stand up an alternate response pilot program on a reasonable timeline.

SPD Hiring Incentives/Strategies Resolution and Legislation

The Public Safety committee then moved onto discuss CM Nelson’s resolution on hiring incentives and CM Herbold’s legislation lifting a proviso on $650k of salary savings to pay for another SPD recruiter and moving expenses, primarily for lateral hires, at least to start.
Both of these ended up with amendments. The language of CM Nelson’s resolution was amended to signal intent to release only the amount necessary to fund the incentive program, acknowledging some salary savings could be used to address 2023 budget challenges. CM Herbold’s legislation was amended to release more money from the proviso (for a total of $1.15m) in order to pay for a national search for a new police chief and a national officer hiring campaign.
Both passed out of committee with CM Mosqueda being the sole “No” vote, and because the vote was divided, they will come before Full Council for a vote on Tuesday, May 24. If nothing changes in the interim, we can expect both to pass, potentially with a 6-3 vote. It doesn’t seem like these measures will lead to much of an increase in SPD hiring but are instead passing on the merits of “doing something.” CM Nelson in particular repeated that she doesn’t care about the details as long as they’re doing something right now.

Other News

The City of Seattle settled the Seattle Times lawsuit over former Mayor Durkan and former Chief Best’s missing text messages, agreeing to pay a sum of $199,855 (that is taxpayer money, to be clear), and follow the rules/laws they were supposed to follow in the first place. Not a very satisfying conclusion to a betrayal of the public trust.
At the end of last week the Seattle Municipal Court voted to accommodate City Attorney Davison and exclude her “high utilizers” from using community court. An analysis by the King County Department of Public Defense shows that most of these high utilizers are either unsheltered or experiencing extreme behavioral health issues, neither of which are successfully addressed by a year in the County jail.
Will Casey reported this week on a new public database put together by the American Equity and Justice Group that contains all of Washington State’s adult felony convictions from 2000-2020. Obtaining reliable data about our criminal legal system tends to be dodgy at best, so this is a valuable resource for lawmakers and activists alike. AEJG plans to expand and improve upon their database; if you are a software engineer interested in volunteering your time, you can attend their launch event on May 17.
Finally, Kevin Schofield, lately of SCC Insight, is back with a new site, Seattle Paper TrailHis most recent piece is a breakdown of the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey conducted by Seattle University. While I always take this survey with a grain of salt, given its troubling weaknesses, he does draw some interesting conclusions from the flawed data:
First, it continues to be the case that the city’s Black neighborhoods are largely not the ones where fear of crime is high, even though they tend to be over-policed to the detriment of Black residents; they have some of the lowest levels of social disorganization in the city, and also some of the lowest fear of crime. Second, police legitimacy dropped across the board, with only a handful of exceptions in places where fear of crime also rose (though most of the places where fear of crime rose did not see an increase in police legitimacy; it seems to be necessary but not sufficient). Third, social disorganization also decreased nearly across the board, for reasons that are unclear though perhaps related to COVID and more people spending increased time working from home and populating their own neighborhood around the clock.

Recent Headlines

Last Call for a Progressive King County Prosecutor Candidate - Slog - The Stranger

District Court Judge Who Used Racist Language Has Been Taken Off Cases, Court Says | South Seattle Emerald

Families of Those Killed by Police Honor Their Memories | South Seattle Emerald

Attorney General Bob Ferguson on using his platform to pursue justice | Crosscut

Black police, blue line: What happened when a Tacoma officer challenged institutional racism | The Seattle Times

Continued Institutional Resistance to a Civilian Alternate Response Service in Seattle Read More »

The Quick and Dirty on the Seattle Budget Balancing Package

Seattle Budget Balancing Package

Budget Chair Mosqueda released Seattle’s 2022 budget balancing package yesterday. This package is a revision that is balanced to the latest revenue forecast and adjusts the Mayor’s proposed budget to reflect the Council’s spending priorities. This morning the Council met for almost four hours to review what is included in this new budget proposal.

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s special Select Budget Committee meeting. Today there is a presentation on the Budget Chair’s Balancing Package for the 2022 budget.
This evening the Council is holding the second public hearing on the budget, which begins at 5:30pm. Sign-ups begin at 3:30pm. For those planning to comment today, or who wish to contact their CMs via phone or email with their thoughts, here is a summary of changes in public safety spending in this new budget.
First, the budget cuts $10.8m from SPD’s budget. This would lead to SPD’s overall budget being reduced, albeit by a relatively small amount, for the second year in a row. The cuts are coming from the following:
  • Hiring incentive program for new officers and lateral hires
  • Cutting funding for two technology projects (although funding for one part of one of these projects is being provided elsewhere, $216k to analyze the NICJR report on 911 calls)
  • a new squad of CSOs proposed by Mayor Durkan (the main issues at play here are that the currently funded CSO positions are still being filled and there is disagreement as to where the CSOs should be housed, SPD or the CSCC)
  • assuming greater salary savings because of attrition in 2022, including that due to 80 officers who have asked for accommodation from the vaccine mandate, which will probably lead to some number of those officers being let go (the estimate in this case is 12 officers let go)
  • other salary and efficiency savings as outlined by CM Herbold in her amendment two weeks ago
Before we get too hysterical about further cuts to SPD, it’s important to remember that the number of officers responding to 911 calls has thus far remained consistent. This means the increased 911 call response times cannot be attributed to lower staffing at SPD, but is because of some combination of other causes. This balancing package fully funds SPD’s proposed hiring plan in 2022. What it doesn’t do is fully fund SPD’s proposed staffing plan, as the Council is assuming more attrition than SPD is. Expect to hear a lot of vitriol around this distinction. Ultimately the attrition number for 2022 is just a guess, and not a very historically accurate one at that. If the guess is too low, the Council can proviso the money and try to reclaim it later. If the guess is too high, SPD can come to the Council and ask for additional funds.
The funds for participatory budgeting and the Equitable Communities Initiative have been reduced to $30m per program for next year, using some funds that weren’t spent this year. HSD’s community safety capacity building program was also partly funded by funds not yet used for the program this year. The Seattle Community Safety Initiative (the community safety hubs) appears to now be fully funded as well.
Much of the funds to stand up Triage One were cut because SFD is now saying the new program can’t be stood up until December 2022 or January 2023 at the earliest. Apparently bargaining with SPOG about having some 911 calls answered by this new unit won’t even begin till spring 2022. This is all in spite of this new program being announced with large fanfare this past summer. There is still some confusion about the ultimate purpose of this program and how it will complement or fit into other alternate emergency response in the city.
CM Lewis’s amendment asking for $3.1m for a pilot program for a contracted provider-based low-acuity 911 emergency response was not included in the package. This would have started up a program in Seattle similar to CAHOOTS in Eugene, OR or STAR in Denver. Instead $400k is being added to the CSCC to develop an implementation plan and response protocols for such a program, so if it ever gets funded, at least this early work will have been done.
Still, this feels like a setback, especially since Mayor Elect Harrell has said he supports a CAHOOTS-like program in Seattle. The lack of funding for a coherent and cohesive plan for alternate emergency response in Seattle is one of the major disappointments of this balancing package and of the City’s work in general around public safety in the last year and a half.
Other programs not funded in this balancing package include Just Care, which houses people without homes in hotels and would have to cease operations by June 2022; LEAD, which is getting a bit of money but enough to scale up as much as was hoped; and much less funding than requested for the mobile crisis teams managed by DESC to address behavioral health crises, as well as no capital funds for a new voluntary crisis stabilization center. It looks like there will be no additional van for Health One either, although that might be due to constraints in SFD right now.
Programs that are being funded include adding more dispatcher positions to the CSCC, adding more firefighters, and funding CM Morales’s proposal for restorative justice programs. Funds totaling around $4.5m were added for various diversion programs.
The balancing package also provides an impressive $192m for affordable housing and related services.
After tonight’s hearing, the next budget meeting will be at 9:30am on Friday. There will be a chance for public comment at the beginning of this meeting. CMs will continue to discuss the balancing package, asking clarifying questions to Central Staff. Any self-balancing amendments they care to propose must be turned in by noon on Friday.

Other Resources on the Balancing Package

2022 budget "balancing package" released

The Quick and Dirty on the Seattle Budget Balancing Package Read More »

Digging into Seattle’s SPD and Public Safety Budgets

Seattle Budget Meetings

Today was the last of the Seattle Select Budget committee meetings on issue identification related to the 2022 budget.
This first thread is on alternatives to police response and the criminal legal system:
Amy Sundberg
Good morning! I’m here live tweeting at today’s Seattle select budget committee meeting where they’re about to discuss issue identification for alternatives to police response and the criminal legal system.

The second thread finishes up the alternatives conversation and then covers the SPD presentation:

Amy Sundberg
Okay, we’re back with Seattle’s select budget committee, finishing alternatives to police response and the CLS. We’re talking about subsidies for electronic home monitoring.
The City Council has a bunch of decisions related to public safety to make regarding next year’s budget. Here are some things to watch for:
CM Mosqueda sounds dedicated to clawing back as much as possible of the JumpStart funding the Mayor used in the proposed 2022 budget; she wants to implement the JumpStart spending plan passed by the Council last year and avoid future spending cliffs. Unfortunately, this seems to entail taking $27.2m of PB, leaving $30m to spend in 2022 rather than the much larger $57.2m in the proposed budget; some large amount from the Equitable Communities Initiative so they’d have exactly $30m to spend in 2022; and possibly some money from the HSD community safety capacity building program so they’d have exactly $10m to spend in 2022. This means we’re seeing the above priorities be pitted against JumpStart spending plan priorities. For anyone who is generally in favor of both sets of spending, the effect is a bit dampening, to say the least. Of course, for the former priorities, any additional money beyond the ongoing annual amount would need to be spent on one-time projects and investments.
There is a lot of question as to which alternatives to police response should be funded in the new budget, as well as disappointment expressed by CMs that more investment isn’t already in the budget in this area. The new Triage One program, which is being proposed to be housed in SFD, will not be able to be implemented until December 2022, which is still fourteen months away; if it were instead to be housed in CSCC, it would take even longer. Other alternatives being considered by CMs include contracting with an outside community organization for these services or beginning a new different pilot project within CSCC. CM Lewis in particular is in favor of experimenting with a few different approaches in 2022 and then deciding in future budgets which efforts to scale up or down. Several CMs agreed on the urgency of this work.
There was also a bit of discussion about administrative responders, which would be civilians who answer certain calls to take reports, for example for minor traffic accidents or damages/burglaries when the insurance company requires a police report be filed. This could potentially be a body of work taken on by the CSOs or another group. And of course, there’s the perennial question of where the CSOs should be located: within SPD or within the new CSCC.
CM Herbold suggested they might be able to take a different approach to moving certain bodies of work outside SPD. Because there is such a staffing shortage at SPD at present, this may be creating extenuating circumstances that create a different legal framework for having civilians do certain tasks because the City is otherwise unable to get the work done at all. This could have potential implications for parking enforcement officers, community service officers, and even for things like how much work the fire department does in Harbor Patrol compared to SPD.
Response times to 911 priority one calls have been going up, but it turns out the number of sworn officers responding to calls hasn’t changed between this year and last year. (This is because Chief Diaz has moved a number of officers onto patrol duty to make up the difference.) That indicates the greater response times might not be because of SPD’s staffing woes, but rather because of management problems, the way responders are being deployed, increased traffic, increased number of calls, etc.
The SPD appears to be saying they want to spend around $1m on technology to do even more analysis on the NICJR report about which 911 calls could be responded to by people other than police officers. They anticipate having a risk analysis done on the 29 call types that are being considered “low hanging fruit” by the end of quarter one of 2022…so a bit more than five months from now.
There continues to be a somewhat antagonistic relationship between SPD and the Council in that Greg Doss from Central Staff, when discussing technology investments for which SPD wants to spend salary savings, said that SPD appears to be telling the Council what they’re going to do rather than asking. They’ve already entered into some commitments regarding these technology investments even though they haven’t yet received budgetary authority for them. In better (?) news, it does appear SPD might not overspend their overtime budget in 2021, although given that we’re still in a pandemic, that isn’t perhaps as big an achievement as it would have been in other times, especially when we also consider the fact that other city departments aren’t generally in the habit of overspending their budgets and then asking for more money after the fact.
Then there is the issue of SPD’s salary savings spending plan. In the proposed budget SPD will have 1357 sworn officer positions funded, but will only be able to actually fill 1223 of those positions (and that’s if they can meet a very ambitious hiring plan, hiring more officers in 2022 than they have in any of the last ten years, and have the lower attrition rate in 2022 they’ve estimated). This will result in an estimated salary savings of $19m. The Council has to decide, first, whether to continue funding those additional 134 sworn officers positions that will remain empty in 2022. If they do, then they have to decide whether to approve of SPD’s plan of how to spend this salary savings, including on another squad of CSOs; $1.1m on hiring bonuses in an ongoing program; and $5m on various technology projects. Additionally there is the issue that funding for the proposed Triage One team and the Peacekeeper’s Collective is currently coming from this salary savings; this means that if SPD staffs those unfilled positions in the future, there will no longer be a funding source for those two programs.
Meanwhile, some details pertaining to sustaining and/or expanding the pre-filing diversion program seem to depend on the upcoming election for City Attorney. The City Attorney, for example, gets to decide when to charge somebody and how much diversion to practice. CM Lewis once again pushed for the Council to pass legislation to require the City Attorney to maintain a diversion program. The City Council could also theoretically pass legislation to decriminalize certain crimes (although not those on a state level), which may save money that could then be spent on the diversion program.
The next budget committee meetings are on October 26-28, starting at 9:30am, when the CMs will be discussing their proposed amendments to the 2022 budget. There will be time for public comment at the beginning of each of these three meetings.

More Resources on these Budget Discussions

Digging into Seattle’s SPD and Public Safety Budgets Read More »

Seattle’s Proposed Budget: More Cops, JumpStart power play

Seattle’s Proposed 2022 Budget

The Solidarity Budget held their kickoff of their budget recommendations over the weekend. From their website:
The 2022 Seattle Solidarity Budget is a collective call toward a city budget that centers the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable Seattle residents, responds with funding that is commensurate with the crises we are facing, and prioritizes collective care and liberation.
They go onto say, “Divesting from police systems and investing in Black communities goes hand in hand with climate justice work and housing justice work and Indigenous sovereignty.” Here is a good summary of many of their proposals. Full disclosure, I’m on the steering committee of one of the organizations that has endorsed the Solidarity Budget.
The Solidarity Budget launch was strategically timed, as the Mayor transmitted her 2022 proposed budget to the City Council yesterday.
First, some good news. The Mayor is honoring her commitment to continue investment in BIPOC communities, calling for an additional $30m for participatory budgeting (increasing the overall pot to $57m since the bulk of the 2021 investment remains unspent), $30m to the Equitable Communities Initiative (aka the Mayor’s task force), and $30m to the Strategic Investment Fund for acquisition of property located in high risk of displacement neighborhoods. She is also continuing the $10m investment in HSD for community safety capacity building. However, the Solidarity Budget asks for a $60m investment in participatory budgeting.
In terms of SPD, the Mayor proposes increasing their budget by around $2.5m. The total proposed SPD budget for 2022 is about 23% of the estimated available General Fund. She makes several other proposals:
  • the addition of 35 net sworn officers, which means hiring a total of 125 officers in 2022, for a total force of 1230 (in contrast, the Solidarity Budget suggests a total force of 750 officers)
  • $1.1m for bonuses for hiring new recruits and lateral transfers (another attempt after CM Pedersen’s similar amendments failed last week)
  • the addition of another team of CSOs (five officers and one supervisor); the CSOs (community service officers) want to remain within SPD instead of moving the CSCC, meaning expanding this program continues to grow SPD
  • SDOT and the Parks & Rec Department will both get more money to continue removing encampments
The Mayor has provided $2m funding for Triage One, to be housed in the fire department to perform wellness check calls. At this amount of funding, Triage One could only respond to a small fraction of the calls that even SPD agrees don’t need a sworn officer response (14%). And don’t forget the recent NICJR report that found 49% of 911 calls in Seattle don’t require a sworn officer response. However, there is no mention of funding any kind of alternate community emergency response program like CAHOOTS or STAR in the budget, in spite of the proven track record of such programs.
The budget committee presentation on Community Safety & Community Led Investments and SPD will be on Thursday, September 30 at 2pm. You can give public comment Thursday morning at 9:30am; sign-ups begin at 7:30am.

Jumpstart Funds and the Proposed Budget

As Erica Barnett reports in Publicola, another interesting facet of the Mayor’s proposed budget is the fact that she takes $148m from the new JumpStart tax fund to spend on her own priorities. This is in spite of the fact that:
The council adopted the payroll tax specifically to fund programs addressing housing, homelessness, and equity, and created a separate fund for JumpStart revenues with the intention that they couldn’t be used for other purposes—which is precisely what Durkan is proposing to do.
In 2022 Mayor Durkan is planning to use one-time federal relief funds to pay for the stated JumpStart tax purposes, but this plan will leave the new Mayor and Council in a pretty pickle with the 2023 budget, when they will either have to cut the programs funded by the reallocated money in 2022 or abandon their original JumpStart spending plan.
In addition, one in a volley of parting shots, she is proposing legislation that will allow future Mayors to use the JumpStart funds for almost any purpose.

More OPA Problems

Carolyn Bick is back with more excellent reporting on the OPA at the South Seattle Emerald, this time about more discrepancies in a OPA report about the 2020 Labor Day protest outside SPOG HQ. It gets pretty convoluted, so here are some main takeaways:
  • Director Myerberg told the Emerald back in June that he was planning to finalize the Director’s Certification Memo (DCM) for the case in early July, but the DCM had actually been finalized back in April.
  • The DCM appears to craft a narrative of the protest not supported by the evidence that involves conflating three different individuals in easily distinguishable dress and has many discrepancies with various video sources.
  • The narrative tells a story of the protest being broken up in order to arrest a specific person with Molotov cocktails rather than the protest being stopped for no legal reason.
  • You may remember that a different OPA report about this same protest received a partial certification from the OIG because “OIG finds that the deficiencies of the investigation with respect to thoroughness and objectivity cannot be remedied.”
  • You might also remember the resignation of an OIG employee who made an ethics complaint against top staff within the OIG; Bick reports: “The apparent inaccuracies identified in the aforementioned OIG memo included in the ethics complaint start almost at the very beginning of the 35-page DCM.”
Perhaps most damning is this quote from Carolyn Bick’s article:
This throws into question the claim that SPD’s aim was not to disperse the crowd but only to target one person allegedly carrying a dangerous weapon for arrest.
However, the OPA appears to ignore this and, further, appears to convey a specific reason for doing so: The OPA writes in the DCM that it “declines” to reach a conclusion that, under the Federal Consent Decree, would legally bar SPD from policing demonstrations, because the OPA claims that these protest situations could become dangerous without police. For that reason, the OPA writes, it will not sustain this allegation.
It is unclear how this conclusion aligns with the Consent Decree, as OPA’s purpose is to hold SPD and its officers to account.
The above quotation clearly suggests the OPA is failing in its duty to hold SPD and its officers accountable. Further, it suggests that had the OPA followed the actual evidence of the case, SPD would be prevented from policing demonstrations in future because of their failure to comply with proper policing standards. Therefore, the OPA is protecting SPD and its officers not only from discipline for misconduct but also from consequences from the consent decree. It is difficult to see how the OPA can maintain community trust in the face of such actions.

Recent Headlines and News of Note

Amy Sundberg
Good morning! It’s Monday and time for this week’s Seattle Council Briefing. CM Juarez isn’t feeling well enough to be here this morning.
Seattle Budget Headlines
Seattle mayor proposes increasing police staffing in 2022 budget | Crosscut

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2022 budget plan would add police, allocate federal aid to housing | The Seattle Times

Seattle’s Proposed Budget: More Cops, JumpStart power play Read More »

2021 Policing and Public Safety Voter Guide Is Out!

Policing Voter Guide is Out!

People Power Washington is pleased to present the 2021 Policing and Public Safety Voter Guide for Seattle, King County, and Burien to help you know where local candidates stand as you make voting decisions in the August 3rd primaries. (This week is the time to fill out your ballot if you haven’t already!) Key races will determine who sets the course in areas that impact all of us including choosing heads of our law enforcement departments, setting budget priorities, and negotiating collective bargaining agreements with police guilds.
Many local candidates responded to our questionnaires about public safety and the criminal legal system; you can read their on-the-record answers at the website and work to hold them accountable if they are elected. The website also includes explainers to provide context to the critical issues at stake this year. If your own jurisdiction is not covered by the current guide, you can contact People Power Washington at wapeoplepower@gmail.com if you’d like to help them add it for the general election in November.
I’m on the steering committee of People Power Washington and worked directly on some of the questionnaires and issue explainers. I hope you find them helpful!

A New Director for King County’s OLEO

Today the King County Council selected a new Director for OLEO (Office of Law Enforcement Oversight): Tamer Abouzeid, an attorney, mediator, community organizer and policy professional. He is replacing previous Director Deborah Jacobs. He is starting on September 20.

Seattle City Council Meetings

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Council Briefing!

On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to pass a clerk file to make sure facial recognition technology is included as part of the City’s surveillance technology ordinance. CM Herbold reported that last week the Mayor’s Office announced committing $2m in next year’s budget to a regional response to gun violence, the Regional Peacekeepers, and CM Herbold would like to try to get some of that money out the door this year instead of next year.

Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting.
At today’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, we heard about OIG’s phase one sentinel review report on the protests last year, as well as Summary Findings on the Executive Order on Re-imagining Policing and Community Safety from the executive branch (Central staff presentation here/Executive branch presentation here). The live tweet of this meeting is of more than usual interest given the topics covered.
This first phase of the OIG’s sentinel review report only covers the first few days of the protests last summer, focusing on five primary events during those days. The report offers 54 recommendations that they hope are actionable for SPD. (As a side note, one of the most interesting things about the sentinel review report process is the use of a peacemaking circle within the selected panel to try to facilitate trust building and peace, as well as listening and reconciliation. I do question whether trust can be built between community and an organization with such deep systemic issues, but am interested in other applications for this process.)
One of the OIG report’s main critiques comes from Decriminalize Seattle, who tweeted that while the focus of the report is on fixing the system, the brutal police response of last summer IS the system, and the recommendations made in the report are “almost laughably pro-cop.”
Decriminalize Seattle Coalition (Official)
The only problem:
Last summer’s brutal police response to protest IS the system
As for the summary findings for re-imagining public safety, the IDT involved in this work says they learned three things from community engagement: that community is not a monolith, that public safety extends beyond policing, and that people want more visible patrol presence, especially in the International District, Belltown, and Pioneer Square.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the report was that the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) was contracted to do an analysis of Seattle’s 911 call data, and they found 174 call types they thought could be answered by alternative responses instead of sworn officers, which Chris Fisher from SPD said would equal about 49% of calls. However, SPD did their own analysis and decided only 12% of those calls (28-30 call types) could actually be answered by alternate responses, including person down and welfare check calls. They said part of this was due to labor and legal issues (aka the police contract and local laws).
CM Herbold brought up the point that 12% of 911 calls is 48,000 calls a year, but the Mayor’s Triage One proposal (the new emergency response pilot) is only designed to answer 7,000 calls per year. She asked about the additional 40k calls in that 12% and why they weren’t included in the Mayor’s proposal. Julie Kline from the Mayor’s office said that Triage One is just a first step, what they see as “low-hanging fruit.” It is noteworthy seeing just how small a first step it is.

Recent Headlines

Mental Health Response Teams Yield Better Outcomes Than Police In NYC, Data Shows

Report: Seattle police stop Black people, Native Americans at far higher rate than white people | The Seattle Times

2021 Policing and Public Safety Voter Guide Is Out! Read More »

New Seattle 911 response pilot program and the OIG criticizes SPD’s protest response

This Week’s Council Briefing

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to this week’s Seattle Council Briefing!
CM Herbold announced she has a bill coming before Full Council next week (on July 26) designating facial recognition software as a surveillance technology for the purposes of the existing ordinance that allows the Council to review such technology. Chief Diaz has said the SPD has no intention of beginning to use Clearview AI at the department, as one officer did recently without permission. She also reminded us that the less lethal weapons bill won’t come before the Full Council for a vote before August 16 at the earliest, as she wants to wait for Judge Robart’s consent decree status conference on August 10.
On the agenda of the public safety and human resources committee meeting this coming Tuesday, July 27, is a briefing and discussion about the Office of Inspector General (OIG) Sentinel Event Phase 1 Report, regarding how the SPD handled the protests last summer, as well as briefing and discussion on “Summary Findings on the Executive Order on Re-imagining Policing and Community Safety.” You can read the OIG report here, which includes recommendations on how SPD can improve their protest response. This report only includes the first three days of last year’s protests. Among other things, the report suggests shifting away from the police as crowd control and more towards protest facilitation, and tactical changes like police not leaving weapons unattended in vehicles, being allowed to express solidarity with protesters, minimizing unnecessary arrests at protests, and replacing police radio communication with encrypted messaging system (like WhatsApp) for protests. The report offers 54 recommendations in total.

Seattle News

Today Mayor Durkan announced a new plan for Seattle’s response to 911 calls that don’t require armed officers, tentatively called “Triage One,” the funding for which she will be including in her proposed 2022 budget this fall. It will begin as a pilot program with limited capacity. As The Seattle Times reports:
The idea is for Triage One to be housed in the Fire Department and be staffed by civilian city employees, possibly partnered with officers or firefighters, Durkan said. The responders will know de-escalation techniques and how to navigate people to social services, she said.
The new Triage One team would respond to lower acuity calls than those responded to currently by Health One, and would have the ability to contact police or Health One if necessary.
After many delays and much foot dragging from Mayor Durkan, this week the City of Seattle also announced the recipients of the $10.4m in grants for community safety capacity building. 33 organizations are receiving these one-time grants; you can read the list of which organizations have received them here.
Chief Diaz wrote a blog post this week detailing what changes the SPD will be making in response to changes in state law this year. He says the new laws will cause changes in how officers handle “Terry stops,” stops made without probable cause for arrest. The department will also do away with its high-caliber rifles and shotguns, but they will not turn in their high-caliber rubber bullet launchers unless they hear otherwise from State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

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