July 25 Public Safety and Human Services Committee / Seattle Police Management Association Public Hearing Aug 8 / Council Adopts Racing Zone Legislation


July 25 Public Safety and Human Services Committee

At the July 25th  Public Safety and Human Services Committee we followed up on four separate important Council initiatives. You can watch the video here.

Abortion Access:  In 2022, when news leaked that the Supreme Court planned to overturn the right to abortion in its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, this Council moved quickly to shore up legal protections for people seeking abortion, and to increase access to safe abortion services.

Committee members received an update on the City’s historic, first-ever investment in providing abortion services directly ($250,000 in 2022 and $1.25M in 2023) from Public Health-Seattle & King County and the City’s Human Services Department.  You can see the presentation materials here, and watch the discussion here.

Between April 2022 and March 2023, Washington state saw its number of monthly abortions increase by 16.5%, or an additional 290 procedures per month, according to the Society of Family Planning.  In the past year, the City’s funding, along with $500,000 from King County, supported 757 individuals in accessing abortion services locally.

  • 72% of the funding paid for medical services and 28% paid for travel and lodging
  • Pregnant people are traveling from surprisingly long distances to receive healthcare here, including Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. 55% come from Washington, and Idaho residents make up the next largest group.
  • These funds are reaching pregnant people who are uninsured, and truly without resources to travel or access services.

Abortion IS healthcare.  Abortion remains legal and accessible in Seattle, King County, and throughout Washington state.  Anyone seeking an abortion, or information about it, can learn more at www.KingCounty.Gov/Abortion.

Domestic Violence Workgroup Recommendations:  For the past year, at Council’s request, local domestic violence survivors, advocates, and policy experts with experience intervening in domestic violence outside of the criminal legal system met as a workgroup to identify and make recommendations to expand community responses to domestic violence.  The result: an insightful report entitled Transformation Is Possible, which deserves wide readership, and this presentation to committee members on their recommendations.

Why a community-based model?

  • Many abusive behaviors and patterns are perfectly legal, yet survivors deserve assistance and support.
  • The City Attorney’s Office’s first quarterly report shows that in up to 65% of domestic violence incidents investigated by SPD, charges are not filed, often because DV survivors do not want to testify or have charges filed. In these cases, the criminal legal system offers no support or assistance.
  • While domestic violence is a learned behavior, there are few resources for people who are abusive to get help changing their behavior, whether of their own volition or at the urging of a survivor, their children, families, friends, or broader communities.
  • Criminal legal responses have been disproportionately harmful to Black and Indigenous communities and other communities of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities; and immigrant and refugee communities.

The thoughtful recommendations of this workgroup include establishing durable public funding for community responses that reach people being abusive; investing in strategies developed by marginalized survivors; and launching a 3-year pilot program with community-directed investments.  You can watch the presentation and committee members’ discussion here.

Retail Theft Audit: In early 2022, Councilmember Lewis and I requested the City Auditor conduct an audit regarding retail theft in Seattle, in response to increasing incidences of retail theft.

The Auditor presented the report, The City Can Do More to Tackle Organized Retail Crime in Seattle, to the PSHS committee. The report has a lot to say about what Seattle can be doing differently.

Retail theft continues to be a serious problem adversely affecting retailers throughout Seattle; all five City police precincts are included in the chart in the report showing the 10 most affected retail locations for SPD service calls:

Presenters included representatives from the City Auditor’s Office, Washington Retail Association, Seattle Police Department (SPD), King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

The recommendations in the report included:

  1. City collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, including the new Organized Retail Crime Unit in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
  2. Leveraging federal and state crime analysis resources.
  3. In-custody interviews of “boosters” — people who steal on behalf of fencing operations— should also ask for information on fencing operations.
  4. Updating antiquated Retail Theft Program with new technology to address ORC.
  5. Following the King County Prosecutor’s Office checklist for organized retail crime cases.
  6. Using place-based approaches to disrupt unregulated street markets.
  7. Considering City support of legislation that addresses ORC.

A key focus of the report is on fencing operations in the chain of organized retail theft:

“Fencing” is the practice of reselling stolen goods through online marketplaces, unregulated markets such as illegal street markets, storefronts that buy stolen goods, and by shipping goods for sale outside of the U.S.

The report highlighted the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design report completed by the West Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator for the 12th and Jackson neighborhood in Little Saigon as an example of a place-based approach to disrupting open-air markets.

My office has notified the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs of the identified recommendation to support legislation for inclusion in the City’s 2024 State Legislative Agenda.

The audit describes the approach of the City of Kent (in England) using rapid video, with a link to a video call with an officer. Response times are 656 times faster; a Cambridge University study found this approach also had an unexpected benefit of officer retention.

SPD reported that they would be considering the recommendations carefully and would keep the Council informed about implementation efforts.

Pre-filing Diversion Program Expands to 25+: In 2017 the City began a pre-filing diversion program, for young adults aged 18-24. In 2021, the Council added funding in the 2022 budget to expand pre-filing diversion for individuals 25 and over, after funding a Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 years Old and Older, completed in 2021.

The Human Services Department and the City Attorney’s Office presented about contracts that have begun or will soon begin for providers. Here’s a primer about how pre-filing diversion works, referencing CHOOSE 180, a provider for the 18-24 cohort:

The City Attorney’s Office shared data demonstrating the benefits of pre-filing diversion; the chart on the right shows a lower incidence of recidivism.

The presentation includes summaries of the different program models, which vary.  Agencies will report monthly on the number of referrals, participants, graduates, and other categories.

Work on these issues date back to the establishment, in 2015, by the City Council of a Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-Entry Workgroup in a resolution sponsored by then-Councilmember Harrell, which issued its final report in October 2018.

Seattle Police Management Association Public Hearing Aug 8

There are two labor unions that represent Seattle police officers: the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). SPOG represents officers and sergeants; SPMA represents captains and lieutenants and has fewer than 100 members. An upcoming public hearing applies to SPMA.

On August 8th at 5:30 p.m., the Public Safety and Human Services Committee and the Select Labor Committee will jointly hold a Public Hearing on necessary changes to the City’s police accountability system that should be included in future negotiations with SPMA.  Information about how to testify is included on the agenda. Opportunities for both in-person and virtual testimony will be provided.  Sign-in for in-person testimony begins at 5 p.m.; virtual sign-in begins at 5:30 p.m.

This Hearing must be held at least 90 days before the City begins collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) and in accordance with Seattle Municipal Code 4.04.120.

It’s the point in time for the public to testify about what should be included in a new contract.  Once negotiations begin, they are confidential and closed to the public until negotiations conclude.

The public hearing requirement is unique to SPMA and SPOG bargaining processes (it exists for no other city unions) out of recognition that, “the City and the public have a strong interest in the conduct and operation of the police department given its impact on public safety.”

SMC 4.04.120.G states, “The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward the interests expressed at the public hearing. Those suggested changes that are legally required to be bargained with the SPOG, SPMA or their successor labor organizations will be considered by the City, in good faith, for inclusion in negotiations but the views expressed in the public hearing will not dictate the city’s position during bargaining.”

The Council adopted CB 120332 June 2022 with SPMA for an agreement that runs through the end of 2023. My newsletter from June 2022  addressed changes we heard about from members of the public.

Additional information will be available on the City Council Blog in the coming days about how labor negotiations work with SPMA and SPOG.

Council Adopts Racing Zone Legislation

The Council adopted legislation establishing racing zones, making those streets eligible for safety camera enforcement. The previous week the legislation had passed out of committee.

Here are the zones, and maps:

  1. Alki Ave. SW between 63rd Ave SW and Harbor Ave. SW.
  2. Harbor Ave. SW between Alki Ave. SW and SW Spokane St.
  3. West Marginal Way SW between SW Spokane St and 2nd Ave SW.
  4. Sand Point Way NE between 38th Ave NE and NE 95th St.
  5. NE 65th St between Sand Point Way NE and Magnuson Park.
  6. Roadways inside Magnuson Park including, but not limited to, NE 65th St and Lake Shore Dr NE.
  7. Seaview Ave NW between Golden Gardens Park and 34th Ave NW.
  8. 3rd Ave NW between Leary Way NW and N 145th St.
  9. Martin Luther King Jr Way S between S Massachusetts St and S Henderson St.
  10. Rainier Ave S from S Jackson St south to the city limits.

What’s next?

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is in the process of completing the equity analysis as required by the State law prior to installing the enforcement cameras. The Council anticipates the Mayor’s Office will propose additional implementation details in the coming weeks, which should include collaboration between SDOT and our Seattle Police Department.

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