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ACLU WA comes out against the Compassion Seattle initiative

Notes from the Emerald City
ACLU WA comes out against the Compassion Seattle initiative
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #15 • View online
Notes from this week’s Seattle City Council Briefing and Public Safety committee meetings and the wrap-up to the article series on OLEO.

Seattle City Council Meetings
Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to the Seattle Council Briefing!
This week’s Seattle Council Briefing didn’t cover much about policing or investments into public safety, but CM Lewis did introduce a letter in support of decriminalizing psychedelic drugs. All CMs signed onto the letter except CM Strauss, who was absent, and CM Pedersen, who said he needed more time to review the letter. The Stranger reports:
Lewis said he will “almost certainly” drop an ordinance to make psychedelics the lowest-level enforcement priority for law enforcement at the city level after the task force releases its recommendations, but both he and Herbold stressed the opportunity here for state-level action.
CM Mosqueda also mentioned the possibility of using psychedelic drugs as a treatment for TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), otherwise known as concussions, a subject area where I have a personal interest, having suffered from a concussion for quite some time myself without receiving any real recommendations for treatment.
Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle's Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting!
This morning’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting included a Crisis Response Continuum Roundtable with representatives present from SFD and Health One, Crisis Connections, Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), LEAD and REACH, and the SPD crisis response unit. All these providers agree they don’t have enough capacity to meet the high demand for their services, and they don’t have enough service providers either. They also briefly discussed the new 988 system that comes online in July 2022, for which funding has been provided by the state legislature, which will make a better response possible, although they expect a much higher demand as well. CM Lewis said they need to consider LEAD as an indispensable leg of the stool of overall public safety and treat it as a standing budget priority.
Also at this morning’s meeting, Carlos Lugo of Central Staff presented his report entitled “Realigning Seattle’s Criminal Legal System through a Public Health Approach.” This report, reflecting two years of work, represents the academic piece of the conversation, while a community task force also worked on recommendations that will be presented at a later meeting. The report suggests shifting our criminal legal system from being punitive to using a public health model, using the RNR model to understand factors of why violence occurs and what prevents violence, followed by implementing interventions and monitoring their impact. He also used the sequential intercept model that we’ve seen before in Council meetings during the last year. The intercept model looks at points where it’s possible to divert people from the criminal justice system to alternatives.
My takeaway from his presentation? He suggests investing in programs that reduce criminogenic needs and ACEs (adverse childhood events), possibly through participatory budgeting and possibly using money saved by negotiating to reduce jail services purchased from King County. When asked specifically by CM Morales, he said they should absolutely use funds diverted from SPD as well, calling out as an example the fact that if you use summons instead of arrests for misdemeanor crimes, that would save a lot of officer time.
Other News
Charter Amendment 29 (CA-29) would enshrine Seattle’s current ineffective and harmful practice of sweeping unhoused residents and their homes from public places into the City’s Charter, while doing nothing to meaningfully address homelessness. The criminalization of poverty is not only unconstitutional, but an inappropriate way to address the long-standing and intersecting issues of housing affordability, Seattle’s racial wealth divide and community displacement, and the history of structural inequity in housing.
A reminder: mayoral candidates Bruce Harrell and Jessyn Farrell are on the record as supporting this charter amendment, and Casey Sixkiller has said he supports continued homeless sweeps. And speaking of the mayoral candidates, you can read how they would address structural racism if they are elected to office.
Meanwhile, SPD has the largest new officer class in 20 years. They are trying to increase hiring to as fast a rate as possible to keep up with their high rate of attrition.
Carolyn Bick finished their excellent series on OLEO and its former director’s troubled relationship with the KCSO and KCPOG. The article includes a discussion of the recent police scorecard data released, where the King County Sheriff’s Office got an unimpressive 39% out of 100. Its police accountability score was 10%.
Recent Headlines
A lesson from my losses: We cannot afford to completely dismantle the police | The Seattle Times
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Amy Sundberg

This newsletter covers Seattle politics and policy with a particular focus on police accountability and criminal justice reform, while also referencing relevant news in Washington State and beyond.

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