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Seattle May Get Its Alternative Response Pilot in 2023 After All

Notes from the Emerald City
Seattle May Get Its Alternative Response Pilot in 2023 After All
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #78 • View online

Chances to Act and Learn
Your next chance to weigh in on Seattle’s redistricting process is THIS Thursday, September 15th at a public forum from 6-8pm. You can either attend in person at City Hall L280 Boards and Commissions Room or call in remotely via Zoom. Either way you can register in advance with with the City. You can read a sample script here. Your last chance to weigh in will be on Saturday, October 8th from 10am-12pm.
Last week the League of Women Voters Seattle King County held their forum entitled “Public Safety and the Role of the King County Prosecutor.” You can watch this spirited and informative conversation for yourself on Youtube.
Also on Thursday evening 9/15 will be the forum for the final three candidates for SPD police chief, live on the Seattle Channel from 6-7:30pm. You can submit questions ahead of time here. If you’re not sure what to ask or want suggestions, People Power Washington has curated a list of potential questions here.
Seattle News
Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle's Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting. Right now the CMs are meeting the new nominee for the head of Public Health for Seattle and King County, Dr. Khan.
At this morning’s Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting, two items of note were discussed.
First, the committee questioned the final candidate for OPA Director, Gino Betts Jr. You can read his written answers to several pertinent questions here. The committee voted in favor of his confirmation, with all CMs voting in favor except for CM Mosqueda, who abstained as she wishes to speak with him further as well as engage in more stakeholder dialogue. His final confirmation vote should take place at the full City Council meeting next Tuesday 9/20.
He has spoken many times of his preference for OPA to become a fully civilianized investigative body, and he has also committed to ruling on cases based on the merit of the case as opposed to ruling with an eye as to how they will fare on appeal. This morning he also suggested the next step for radical transparency would be for the OPA to release all video footage, including body-worn camera and car camera footage, as well as police reports to the public, preferably within 30 days of a complaint being filed. He also suggested if SPD was resistant to recommended policy changes, he’d engage with the OIG and CPC and also potentially make the case directly to the people of Seattle. All of these statements stand in strong contrast to the stance of his predecessor, Andrew Myerberg.
In his Q&A linked above, Gino Betts also spoke in support of mediation, a process the OPA offers but which has been little utilized since the start of the pandemic. The mediation system has often been criticized by community and advocates, so it will be interesting to see how hard he pushes for this going forward.
Second, the committee discussed the “term sheet” between the Executive and Legislative branches around work on alternative 911 response in Seattle. As regular readers of this newsletters know, all efforts to stand up alternative response over the past few years have suffered from a lack of coordination and cooperation between these two branches. This new agreement includes provisions for standing up one new alternative response in 2023, as well as further call analysis building on SPD’s risk management demand analysis in order to determine the best alternative response models going forward. The sheet also memorializes agreement over creating a policy proposal to minimize use of sworn officers for special events staffing.
Going forward then, we should expect the following:
  • money allocated in the 2023 budget for the new alternative response that will be implemented in 2023
  • SPD’s risk management demand analysis report, to be presented to the committee on Tuesday, September 27
  • a proposal for special events staffing to be available for analysis later in 2022
  • the policy document outlining the framework for permanent alternative response models in general by the end of 2022
As mentioned above, the City of Seattle announced their three finalists for the SPD police chief position. Two of the finalists already work for SPD, including Interim Chief Adrian Diaz and Assistant Chief Eric Greening. The third finalist, Kevin Hall, is an Assistant Chief of Police in Tucson, Arizona, and implemented his department’s pre-arrest deflection program. However, this program has been criticized by advocates who say it is neither effective nor equitable. Once the Mayor selects his final choice, the candidate will need to be confirmed by the City Council.
Bail Reform
A new study on bail reform in Harris County, Texas shows results of fewer low-level offenders in jail and improved public safety. If you’re interested in bail reform, you can also read civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger’s thread on the topic here:
Scott Hechinger
Please pay attention: Years into bail reform in handful of cities & states round country. Research, reports, & data all are definitive. 100,000s more people free. $100,000,000s taxpayer dollars saved. No related increase in crime. These are facts. Stop believing lies.
Recent Headlines
How Can We Fix the King County Jail Crisis? - The Stranger
Seattle-area law enforcement union chiefs push for Jim Ferrell in prosecutor race | The Seattle Times
We Need to Revisit Long Prison Sentences for Young Offenders | Time
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California Redefines the Concept of "Care"
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Amy Sundberg

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

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