Here are the people fixing, or opposing, public safety reform in Seattle
August 24, 2022
Like any significant problem in life, public safety in Seattle isn’t going to get fixed overnight. It’s going to take time, effort, and patience. But another aspect of that is having people in charge willing to address what caused the problem and change things that aren’t working.
Seattle City Hall and King County right now have a mixture of both people running the show.
On one hand you have City Attorney Ann Davison, who has vowed to go after serial offenders that are proven to cause a disproportionate amount of the increased crime Seattle is experiencing. This is in contrast with her predecessor, who declined to file charges almost 50 percent of the time when a cases was referred to his office by the Seattle Police Department.
Additionally, Davison has reduced the time spent deciding whether to prosecute from an astonishing 129 days to just three. This means more serial offenders are going to be prosecuted at much faster rate and speed than before.
All of this represents positive changes in the right direction.
Another important change that needs to occur is with the city’s police department, which is severely understaffed and has had hundreds of officers leave since 2017 due heavily in part to toxic rhetoric and policies emanating from City Hall. Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson has pushed for hiring more officers and called attention to the plight of businesses amid a “total breakdown” in public safety.
Newly-elected Mayor Bruce Harrell recently proposed hiring bonuses for new officers, with a goal of staffing 1,400 officers compared to the 900 SPD has currently.
A majority of the City Council last week voted in favor of the mayor’s proposal. Again, a step in the right direction and a shift in behavior compared to two years ago, when the council majority voted to cut police funding after rioters took over the East Precinct and set up CHAZ in Capitol Hill.
However, not everyone was on board, with Councilmembers Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda, and Kshama Sawant voting against the measure.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Contact Councilmembers Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda, and Kshama Sawant and tell them to stop opposing public safety reforms!
At this point there’s no excuse for opposing these common-sense reforms. There’s no denying that the Seattle police department has too few officers for a city this large. Other metros have a significantly higher officer per capita ratio than Seattle. It has led to delayed responses to 9-11 calls, if a response occurs at all.
There’s also no excuse for pretending that Seattle is doing just fine with regards to crime. Recently Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat took to task people who still labor under the delusion that crime isn’t a problem.
But both violent and property crimes really are up markedly — to the highest levels citywide in Seattle in more than two decades. Through July, property crime is up 25% compared with two years ago. Violent crime is rising still faster, up 35%. Shootings are up 100%.
That’s just not normal. It doesn’t make my city look good, it’s true. The only thing worse though would be to pretend it isn’t happening.
The unfortunate fact is that there are people out there who are doing just that. Some of them are currently sitting on the City Council. The underlying sentiment that led to the situation in the first place needs to be confronted wherever it exists, because it is part of the reason why we struggle to make progress.
HomeStreet Bank CEO Mark Mason summed it up well when he told Westneat “we are today still a successful and rich city, and we have the resources to address the spiraling crime. We just don’t have the political willpower yet.”
That needs to change.
Westneat poses to his readers: “So if we were to agree to confront it head on, what would we do about it?”
We would do what people like Davison is doing – targeting serial offenders by filing charges against them often and speedily. It’s what King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg should be doing with felony offenders – instead, the county is looking to set up a program for criminals to avoid jail. Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell and Satterberg’s Chief of Staff Leesa Manion are running for county prosecutor this year. Among their policy differences is the county’s Restorative Community Pathways, which Farrell opposes and Manion supports.
Amazingly, there is no oversight over the program.
As KUOW reported:
Jimmy Hung, head of the juvenile division, responded that the program was designed with trust in the community organizations, and they don’t want to exert leverage or surveillance over the process.
The program is ostensibly intended to keep youths out of jail and instead gives them services such as therapy and tutoring. In reality, it’s an unaccountable, taxpayer-funded criminal apprenticeship program that prepares juveniles for a future criminal career once they become an adult. They’re also ideal recruits for gangs, since they not only don’t serve jail time but also have their criminal records wiped clean once they turn 18.
Manion states on her campaign website that one of her public safety priorities is “offering effective diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration.
In other words, more of the same program we have now for juveniles and will soon have for adults.
Another public safety priority of hers is to “reduce the fear of crime –this includes sharing data to dispel fear-mongering and myths.”
In case you had a double-take, you didn’t read that wrong. Reducing the fear of crime.
A former senior deputy prosecutor with King County, Ferrell has been endorsed by both the Seattle Police Officers Guild and King County Police Officers Guild, in addition to other law enforcement guilds located in the county, while Manion has openly stated she didn’t even seek their endorsement.
The Seattle Police Guild wrote in a statement to Change Washington:
A vote for Leesa Manion is a vote for more lawlessness in our county. Leesa’s far left unreasonable ideology will further the politicization of public safety to the detriment of ALL.
Jim Ferrell is the only qualified moderate candidate to be our next King County Prosecuting Attorney. Jim’s reasonable approach to public safety will be fair and equitable. Now more than ever we must vote for Jim Ferrell so we can remove the activist class/culture that are ruining King County by horrifically experimenting with public safety
Whoever wins will have the power to follow Davison’s lead on the issue or go the wrong direction.
Solving crime is no different than solving the homelessness crisis. If you don’t understand what caused it in the first place, you can’t fix it. You definitely aren’t going to fix it if you continue to pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
Seattle and King County can no longer afford to have such people running the show.