Budget season is returning to Seattle City Hall and Mayor Jenny Durkan is again starting with what has been at the core of her plans for city revenue — public safety and police.
Tuesday, the mayor announced a proposal “to invest $1.6 million” to “strengthen recruitment, speed up hiring, and improve retention of officers” at the Seattle Police Department.
“As Seattle grows, we must make sure we are recruiting, hiring and retaining the most experienced officers who can provide public safety and are committed to lasting reform,” the mayor said in a statement on the budget initiative. “That’s how we can build the best and most effective community policing department in America.”
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The proposed uptick in police spending comes after reports of low morale at SPD and complaints about a general lack of support for officers in the city even as a new contract boosted wages including two years of back pay for veteran officers.
“After a data-driven study and survey among SPD officers, Durkan and Chief Best announced the implementation of the report’s recommendations for strategic hiring and retention,” the announcement reads.
Durkan and Chief Carmen Best also announced that the mayor’s 2020 budget will include $847,000 “to continue community-based emphasis patrols at 2019 levels in 2020.” Last spring, the mayor discussed the patrols during her public safety tour of Capitol Hill.
Tuesday, her office said Durkan’s 2020 budget proposal will also include:
- Significant Expansion of the Seattle Police Department’s Community Service Officer program that Mayor Durkan and Chief Best announced in April they would re-launch;
- Creation of a Native American community liaison position in the Seattle Police Department;
- Expansion of the Pre-Filing Diversion Program;
- Launch the City’s participatory process to distribute $1 million in funding for restorative justice programs; and
- Awarding $4.4 million to community-based organizations via the Human Services Department’s Safety Program.
The spending will “focus on alternatives to arrest and incarceration at every step of the system, from interactions with law enforcement, to diversion programs before a court filing, to reentry assistance after involvement in the criminal legal system,” the announcement reads.
CHS reported on the return of Community Service Officers to Seattle this summer as the unarmed community police officers were again deployed to “handle non-emergency incidents such as neighborhood disputes, investigations, and crime prevention.”
The Mayor’s 2020 Proposed Budget will include $1.21 million to expand the CSO program to a total of 15 civilian officers and three supervisors. “The proposed investments would allow for the hiring of five new CSOs and one supervisor, and would allow the CSO team to expand their hours of service to seven days per week throughout the city,” the announcement reads.
The proposals will also create a dedicated Native American community liaison in the Seattle Police Department “to provide culturally responsive services to Indigenous communities navigating the criminal legal system.”
The budget proposals outlined by Durkan will be part of her 2020 budget proposal handed to the Seattle City Council later this year for additions, subtractions, and haggling.