Bola Wrap Press Conference / Responding to Gun Violence / Mental Health Resources for Students / Parks and Warm Weather / South Park Flooding / West Seattle High School Landmark Legislation


Bola Wrap Press Conference

This week, I joined SPD in their announcement that they were beginning their pilot use of the BolaWrap. Two years ago in April of 2021, I participated with Community Police Commission members, the Office of Police Accountability Director, and the Inspector General, in a demonstration of the BolaWrap.  The BolaWrap differs from the TASER, baton, and pepper spray, in that it does not rely on pain-causing mechanisms for compliance. Instead, it uses a Kevlar rope aimed at the legs or arms of an individual to detain them. This tool is often referred to as “mobile handcuffs.”

As much of Seattle knows, our community safety network is growing, expanding, and changing as we build new investment strategies to provide services and care to prevent crime, new response systems to answer 911 calls with a behavioral health nexus and new tools and tactics for police to maintain public safety.

Even as we build out an innovative public safety system across city departments, it is a reality that there are certain situations when police must take someone into custody or take immediate action to stop someone who poses a threat to the safety of themselves, officers, or others around them. Less-lethal tools are used to interrupt a person’s threatening behavior so officers may take control of the situation with less risk of injury to the subject, bystanders, and police. Currently, three of the most common less-lethal weapons used by SPD are the TASER, the baton, and pepper spray.

In 2012, the City entered into a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, in part, to reduce “the use of force against individuals in behavioral or mental health crisis.” At that time, 70% of all use-of-force encounters between citizens and SPD officers involved people in a behavioral crisis. SPD has reduced that percentage to 23%. Of the 10,000 contacts that SPD officers now have each year with people in a behavioral crisis, only a fraction involve any physical contact at all.

Nevertheless, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Community Police Commission have all raised concerns that with the deaths of people like Derek Hayden, Charlena Lyles, and Terry Caver at the hands of police we still have challenges with how to address people who are in a mental health crisis and are armed with an edged weapon. An OPA recommendation made originally in August of 2021 and reiterated in 2022, recommended that SPD “research and test other less-lethal tools (e.g., Bola Wrap, net gun) to supplement SPD’s existing equipment, which may reduce the use of deadly force.”

The department has de-escalation policies that emphasize that, when “safe and feasible,” officers should make an effort to buy time in tense situations by placing space and barriers between themselves and a person in crisis, and that officers should enter potentially volatile situations with some de-escalation plan in mind.

Less-lethal tools are only allowed to be used in scenarios they are determined to be reasonable, necessary, and proportional in response to a public safety risk in order to protect people from imminent physical injury. New technologies like the BolaWrap device will serve as meaningful de-escalation tools to help prevent tragic outcomes.

I appreciate SPD engaging with our accountability partners in this work, and the CPC and OIG for not only identifying a problem but also working to find an approach that can reduce the use of force and fulfill the spirit of the Consent Decree while maintaining public safety.

Responding to Gun Violence

I know the crisis in gun violence has been on the minds of many in District 1 this week.

A week before last there was a tragic shooting death in Highland Park.  Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera let us know this week that they have focused patrol actions near the location of the vacant house said to be associated with the shooting. The vacant house has also been reported for the purpose of enforcement in accordance with the Vacant Building Code regulations. SPD is working with SDCI to get the building closed.  Captain Rivera also further reports that he has requested that the Community Response Group assess the illegal activity and the Unified Care Team (UCT) assess the need for an RV remediation.  The UCT has prioritized this site.

Last weekend, a man was tragically shot and killed near Whale Tail Park. The evening was chaotic and disturbing for many as medics and police officers worked along Alki to secure the scene for several hours on Saturday. Captain Rivera has informed me that detectives are continuing a diligent investigation of the incident and officers will continue monitoring this and other hotspot areas in the neighborhood.  Captain Rivera has directed emphasis patrols to occur both at Alki on Fridays through Sundays as well as, when staffing allows it, at the Boat Launch.  In addition, as discussed more below, the Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI), which operates Safety Hubs in West Seattle, Southeast Seattle, and the Central District is doing hotspot work at Alki.

As I’ve discussed in this newsletter before, the great resignation that our police department and most other large cities’ police departments are experiencing across the country has created a challenging environment for proactive patrol work. Captain Rivera has explained to me that while many of our officers are often going from one 911 call directly to the next, there is limited ability for a preventative and proactive patrol presence along our city’s most beloved coastline to address not only terrible acts of gun violence but street racing and other public safety risks as well.

For the rest of our summer season, Alki Beach as well as Golden Gardens will close at 10:30 PM in a pilot of shortened hours to assist in addressing dangerous behavior which typically rises seasonally in the summer evenings. See the Parks and Warm Weather section of this newsletter for more info.

At this week’s Board of Health meeting, we received an update on the regional gun violence prevention work led by Public Health-Seattle & King County.  I’ve championed significant resources to drive this work, including:

  • $4 million annually since 2021 for the Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI), which operates Safety Hubs in West Seattle, Southeast Seattle, and the Central District.  The SCSI receives Critical Incident Response Notifications from law enforcement partners which activates a Critical Incident Response, they deploy “credible messengers” as Violence Interrupters to de-escalate tension and connect to youth in need of services.  SCSI also includes Street Outreach Workers who provide school safe passage and conduct hotspot remediation activities and events to increase community safety as well as Client Services for 12 to 24-year-olds impacted by gun violence.  SCSI hotspot work is currently happening in District 1 both at Westwood Village and Alki.
  • $300,000 this year to expand the Harborview-based gun violence prevention program, in order to serve adults ages 25-40 who data suggest are driving the increase in gun violence. The status of the program expansion is that the Human Services Department is negotiating performance metrics for this work  Harborview has hired for this expansion in early May; and that the remaining funds are being negotiated in a direct contract with a community provider who will work with victims after discharge.

The Washington State Legislature took decisive action this year to stem the flood of guns that is behind the increase in gun violence.

One of the most important things we can each do is ensure that guns are securely stored in homes.  Here are some resources:

We know that gun violence doesn’t honor city boundaries, and that regional collaboration is crucial.  Regional Peacekeepers Collective was the only regional approach among the 16 jurisdictions selected to participate in the White House’s Community Violence Intervention Collaborative.  This strategy implements preventative measures that are proven to reduce violent crime and attacks the root causes – including by addressing the flow of firearms used to commit crimes.

Find briefing materials and learn more about our regional approach here.

Click on the images below to enlarge them:

Mental Health Resources for Students

Thanks to Seattle Public Schools for sharing resources for students struggling with mental health concerns during this Mental Health Awareness Month.  From their website:

If you are struggling with your mental health, know you are not alone. Here are a few steps to continuing your wellness and where to go for support:

  • Focus on your strengths and take steps to improve your wellness (a small walk, drink water, limit electronics/social media)
  • Talk about how you are feeling to someone you trust (a family member, friend, clergy, outside supports)
  • Get additional help if needed: It’s okay to not be okay. If you are needing additional support and ideas for what to do
    • Connect with a medical provider
    • Reach out to 2-1-1 to see additional resources (medical, food support, financial, housing, transportation) in King County. Take a look below to support services within King County
    • Take a look at HowRightNow for additional tips, resources, and supports
    • Practice small moments of mindfulness to calm your body. Learn and practice mindfulness techniques organized by Seattle Public Schools alumni Kaia Armas.

You can find additional resources, including 24-hour hotlines and substance use supports, here: Mental Health Program – Seattle Public Schools (

In 2022, I championed $500,000 in Mental Health Funding for Seattle Public Schools, after both Governor Inslee and the nation’s Surgeon General declared states of emergency due to the mental and behavioral health of young people.  These funds have been disbursed between Denny Middle School, Sealth High School, Ingraham High School, Rainier Beach High School, Aki Kurose Middle School, and Ingram High School.  In District 1, they’re being used for student-led programming, staff training by mental health providers on trauma-informed instructional practices, clinicians leading 1:1 and drop-in group counseling, and workshops on healing and resiliency.  The Seattle Times reported on these investments this week, you can read more here.

The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning is now considering how to implement an additional $4 million in funding to address the mental health needs of our youth, which Council added last year.  They’ve informed my office that what they learn from the initial pilot program will help them decide how best to invest these resources.  Learn more here: Youth Join Partnership for $4.5 Million Investment in Mental Health Pilot – What’s the DEEL? (

Parks and Warm Weather

With temperatures soaring, we’re hearing from more of you about enjoying our beloved neighborhood parks.  Here are some Seattle Parks & Recreation (Parks) updates for you.

  • There is a national lifeguard shortage, and Parks is working hard to recruit, train, and hire more lifeguards and wading pool attendants so we can return to full operational hours. Please share SPR’s lifeguard job opportunities with your networks.
  • Alki Beach will close an hour earlier, at 10:30pm, from May 26th – September 4th. The shortened hours will address dangerous or illegal behavior typical of summer evenings, in response to public input and nearby community complaints. Learn more and provide input here.
  • Parks just announced its 2023 Summer Pool, Spraypark, and Beach Schedules. D1 schedules are below, and you can find the entire City schedule here.

Swimming Pools

  • Colman Pool, at 8603 Fauntleroy Way SW, 206-684-7494, will operate daily from Saturday, June 24 through Monday, September 4. The full schedule will be posted here. The pool will be closed July 6 through 8 and July 14 and 15 for swim meets.
  • Southwest Pool, 2801 SW Thistle St. (limited summer operations)

Spray Parks* are open May 27th through September 4th.  The Highland Park spray park will be open from 11am to 8pm daily.

Wading Pools* are open on sunny days when the temperature is forecast to be at least 70 degrees.

*Spraypark and wading pool schedules are subject to change (due to weather or damage to the facilities). Check back here for details or follow the SPR Wading Pool Facebook page.

Wading Pool Address Dates Days Hours
Delridge Community Center 4501 Delridge Way SW June 28 – Aug 18 Wed/Thurs/Fri Noon – 5:30pm
E.C. Hughes Playground 2805 SW Holden Street June 26 – Aug 20 Mon/Tues/Sun Noon – 7pm
Hiawatha Community Center 2700 California Avenue SW June 29 – Aug 19 Thurs/Fri/Sat Noon – 6:30pm
Lincoln Park 8600 Fauntleroy Way SW June 24 – Sept 4 Daily Noon – 7pm
South Park Community Center 8319 8th Avenue South June 26 – Aug 16 Mon/Tues/Wed Noon – 7pm

Flood Control District Testimony to Address South Park Flooding

I testified at the May 17 meeting of the Executive Committee of the King County Flood Control District, in support of funding to address flooding in South Park.

Here is my testimony:

“Chair Dunn and Board of Supervisors, thank you very much for your time today.

I know you are considering your mid-year budget vision today and will be considering amendments to this budget at your June 13 Board meeting.

As you know, Seattle and King County’s South Park community experienced a devasting flood on December 27 when the Duwamish River spilled its banks. 50 homes and businesses were flooded, 25 with significant damage. Roughly 30 people were displaced without food or shelter, and without the means to provide it for themselves and their families. Approximately 20 families are still in temporary housing.

The clean-up cost alone is over $2 million, including for 80,000 pounds of debris. This has been a traumatic impact to people and businesses, in a low-income community with high environmental justice impacts, as well as to business with important industrial jobs.

At your June meeting, there will be an amendment proposal for interim flood protection measures and seed money for the long-term infrastructure planning, as a more permanent solution is needed and will take years to get into place. The total request is about $2.3 million.

This includes funding for a temporary 12 city block temporary barrier from river flooding of a sandbag or other physical barrier and pumping. You have a letter from Mayor Harrell, me, and Councilmember Pedersen about this request.

I am asking you to support this amendment to fund protection of this community. We cannot let them flood like this again. 

The Flood Control District was created with broad purpose to protect communities county-wide from flooding. The Flood District recognizes the particular challenges of low-income communities with health and environmental disparities.  It is absolutely imperative that all communities be supported through Flood District funding.

Seattle appreciates past District support for our stormwater control work in South Park. We now need your commitment to support river over-topping that will only become worse and more frequent with climate change.

Thank you very much.”

West Seattle High School Landmark and Controls and Incentives Legislation

Next week, the City Council will consider Council Bill 120566, which adopts controls on West Seattle High School, a landmark designated by the Landmarks Board.

This bill was voted out of the Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights, and Culture Committee, and will be before the Full Council on Tuesday, May 23rd.

The Landmarks Preservation Board designated this portion of West Seattle High School as a Landmark in 1981. This was the second step in the Landmarks process, after the original nomination.

The third step is an agreement with the owner, in this case, the School District, on controls and incentives, and the final step is a Council designating ordinance. Sometimes controls and incentives are agreed upon relatively quickly, other times it can take longer.

The designation applies to the northern portion of the site, between SW Stevens Street and SW Winthrop Street (a short dead-end street off Walnut Avenue SW):

Here’s a map that shows the broader area:

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