2. More than 52,000 daily transit riders from across all seven City Council districts use Third Avenue daily to get to and from their jobs in downtown Seattle. While Third Avenue acts as a front door to our downtown, it’s also the epicenter of the Seattle’s largest outdoor drug market. A recent report commissioned by DSA and neighborhood district partners has outlined a large amount of criminal activity across the city, including property crime, assaults and robberies, is being perpetrated by a small number of prolific offenders who cycle through the criminal justice system. Have you read the report? If elected to the Seattle City Council, what policies might you pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown in order to make our streets safer for all? How might you work with your elected colleagues to enact these policies?
» next / « previous / all
I’ve met with Fire Fighters, a police Sergeant, an addiction expert, and a mental health advocate and everyone agrees, our current approach to the intersection of homelessness, crime, and substance use is not working. I have looked at the report and I share the point of view that it is unacceptable to allow repeat offenders to commit crimes and fall further into addiction without intervention. In our efforts to be a liberal and compassionate city, we have become enablers to drug addiction, which can be a fatal disease. Our police need to be enabled to enforce property crimes, nuisance crimes, and drug-related crimes and our City and County prosecutors need to follow up with prosecutions, especially for repeat offenders. I think we can also increase participation in LEAD and Mental Health court to make sure those who have comorbid issues are getting the services and treatment they need. We need to ensure our city is a desirable location for the employees who work downtown every day, for the tourists who want to visit, and for the Seattle and King County residents who want to eat, play, and visit downtown.
Yes, I have read the report “System Failure” twice and followed up with its author as well as with the University District BIA in D-4 to learn more and let them know I want to help solve these problems. Thank you for your leadership on this report. It was needed – it’s something the city government should have done.
The report should have been a wake up call to the current City Council. Yet we have not seen action. On the one-month anniversary of that report’s publication, I issued a press release calling on the City Council to use its oversight authority from the City Charter to launch public hearings to hold the criminal justice system accountable by resolving why the worst offenders are continually released back into the community without proper help and supervision.
I will be a voice on City Council that makes public safety a top priority of city government. I will make sure our police officers and fire fighters receive the resources and support they need to keep pace with the challenges arising from our growing population.
- Hire More Officers to Reduce Response Times
- Boost Morale of our Police Officers
- Emphasize Crime Prevention
- Concentrate Enforcement Efforts on Problem Places and Worst Offenders
- Enable Police to Patrol the Beats More; Fill Out Paperwork Less
- Continue to Seek Opportunities for Diversion and Restorative Justice
- Track How Criminal Cases are Resolved to Improve Our Criminal Justice System
- Monitor and Maintain Police Reforms
- Control Police Overtime Costs to Use for Crime Prevention
- Explore a 3-1-1 Call Center Available 24/7. In addition to giving citizens an easy-to-remember phone number (3-1-1) to call day or night for city services that encourages accountability, a 3-1-1 Call Center will reduce the overload on our 9-1-1 Call Center and the “non-emergency” line that is staffed by the same team as the 9-1-1 Call Center. This has worked well for more than a decade in cities from San Francisco to Chicago to New York. Seattle’s current “Customer Service Bureau” is available ONLY on weekdays. While the “Find It Fix It” technology works for some, a 3-1-1 Call Center open 24/7 will enable residents without access to fancy iPhones to receive the best customer service.
Why I Can Deliver Solutions:
- I will work with, not against, our police department.
- I have the experience as a City Council legislative aide for one of the foremost crime prevention experts who chaired the Council’s Public Safety Committee: Tim Burgess, himself a former police officer. I will continually encourage my City Council colleagues to work collaboratively with our Mayor to keep all communities safe by preventing violent crime and reducing property crime.
- I have the credibility advancing evidence-based, upstream crime prevention programs:
Gun Safety Research: Despite resistance from the National Rifle Association, I led the effort to fund innovative research with the University of Washington to improve gun safety – the first of its kind in the nation.
Previous to this questionnaire, I had read reporting on it and spoken to others, but have since read it in full.
I understand the concern about crime in downtown. I have avoided going downtown after dark many times due to feeling unsafe as a woman walking alone.
One driver of property crime and violent crime in our city is our model of policing. I support increased community policing, a model wherein police officers live and work in the communities they police. This model means the police presence is decentralized and there is increased community involvement for reasons besides responding to crime. This can deter crime while still reducing incidents of police use of force because the relationship between officers and citizens is engaged at times other than arrest/detention. This will require a strong relationship with community members affected by property crime, community members vulnerable to police violence, and the Seattle police department. It also requires good pay and incentives for police officers, which depend on strong contracts between SPOG and the city, which I will work to accomplish. I support a transition to a more robust model of community policing because I believe it will make our city safer for everyone.
Additionally, as the report lays bare, much of the crime is due to individuals cycling between homelessness and incarceration. This is a sign of a failure of our criminal justice system to rehabilitate people entering “the system”. According to the report 100% of these repeat offenders displayed signs of homelessness and substance use disorder. One program, the LEAD program, is working successfully as a diversion program and should be expanded. However, this program is not mandated, and thus does not reach all individuals. Expanded programs to support those with substance use disorders and bring them into contact with social services, social workers, and other individuals outside of the police force could also reduce this population of people repeatedly carrying out crime and cycling in and out of incarceration. For instance, expanded suboxone and methodone distribution centers for those experiencing homelessness, strengthened needle exchange, and the completion of a safe consumption site will increase the likelihood that members of this population come in contact with health care, services, and social workers who can support these individuals and reduce risk of repeat offenses. I will work towards these goals by partnering with community organizations and implementing the latest scientific research on addiction to address this aspect of crime.
Finally, we must fund a large expansion to permanent supportive housing. It is clear that a strong, but prominent subpopulation of people experiencing homelessness in Seattle have severe mental illness and/or co-occuring substance use disorder.
Permanent supportive housing, with peer mentoring, dedicated case workers, and stable access to basic needs (food, shelter) is a model of restorative, non-punitive rehabilitation that can lead to people leaving this cycle for good.
I will support existing projects to develop a safe consumption site, which several current council members support. I will work with my colleagues at the city, county, and state to build public support for a new revenue stream to end homelessness, a program that would include the building of permanent supportive housing to the scale necessary to house our chronically homeless population. I would work with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) to implement expanded diversion programs, like the Navigation Team, to prevent the criminalization of homelessness while still working to reduce property crime. I will also collaborate with my colleagues on the council to oversee the Mayor’s budget and ensure that our spending priorities are aligned with the proven best practices.
I have yet to read the report, however it is in my top 10 on my to-do list. In the meantime, have been working hard to meet with first responders and have also met with one business owner on third avenue so that I can become better informed on this issue.
Thus far I have met with the Seattle Firefighters Union and am currently in the process of setting up a meeting with the police department. Something that has stood out to me from the meetings I have had thus far is the importance of LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion). Both firefighters, police officers, constituents and business owners have shared that because the program has been shown to work, they would like to see it expanded and have LEAD officers working more downtown (up until now they have been primarily focused in Ballard). Increasing the amount of LEAD officers is one way that I would address this issue if elected to the city council, as it has been proven to be effective and is making our streets safer. Based on the success of the program thus far, I do not believe it would be difficult to work with colleagues to get policies further expanding LEAD enacted so that our streets could be safer.
Yes I have read the System Failure report. It is shocking. Yes I agree there is a need for criminal justice reform. I support the need for business owners and the staff they employ to have a safe working environment, and understand the perception of crime as well as prolific offenders negatively impact local business health downtown and in other business hubs around the city.
That said, there are limited actions the City can take to address repeat offenders who cycle through County jails and Harborview, a King County hospital.
Our criminal justice system is most effective when we spend our tax money on prevention rather than incarceration because incarceration won’t prevent crimes being committed again. Current City Councilmembers are supporting more treatment programs for mental illness and drug addiction, as well as housing and centers with wrap around services. I’d continue to support these initiatives, and recommend funding to help DSA work to activate Third Avenue with positive eyes on the street activities. The DSA’s work to activate Westlake and Occidental has made an incredible difference for the vitality of downtown and for the people of Seattle that could be a model for Third Avenue.
Yes, I’ve reviewed the report. The sampling methodology is dubious; nevertheless, it is disturbing that 100 frequent offenders can be found cycling through our criminal justice system. To be clear, this is a local result of our state and national wealth inequality. Large corporations and the wealthy have not paid their fair share of taxes for the last 40 years. Lower taxes and the concentration of wealth have left state and local governments unable to properly fund mental health facilities or a thoughtful and effective criminal justice system.
Despite these limitations, Seattle and King County must remove these frequent offenders from our public streets. This is not an attempt to criminalize homelessness or mental health disorders, as the report finds the likely cause of repetitive property crimes to be substance abuse. Seattle and King County must find the funds and staff to provide substance abuse treatment while incarcerating these individuals. These individuals are the outliers of our society, and are not representative of the larger homeless or mentally ill populations.
To combat property crime I would first want to see prosecutors in King County actually prosecute these criminals. Because so many of these so-called “Low level crimes” go unprotected police in our city feel as if the work they do to stop criminals isn’t being taken seriously by prosecutors in King County. In district 4 I support a new police precinct, this would be a huge step in decreasing response times. I also want to see us hire more police officers, I would support signing bonuses and pay increases to influence people to join the SPD. On the issue of signing bonuses for new police hires I think the current council is already in agreement with this.