Seattle sorting out how to pay for expansion of drug diversion program beyond Capitol Hill

Transitioning the emphasis from arrest to treatment and services when it comes to addiction, mental illness, and homelessness is slowly changing policing and the city’s connections to its streets in downtown and parts of Capitol Hill. The hopes to expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion to the rest of the East Precinct now hinges on the process underway at City Hall to shape Seattle’s 2018 budget.

Tracy Gillespie, who handles LEAD’s East Precinct referrals, and LEAD’s operations advisor Najja Morris said the program’s biggest hurdle is funding, year after year. The program needs more case managers. Their hope is to expand throughout Seattle by 2019, which Morris said would require around $4 million. Right now, LEAD is lined up for $1 million out of the city budget.

The program has been working in Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct — Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Little Saigon — since last year. But it’s been Capitol Hill centric because the program rolled out to SPD’s bicycle officers, who focus on the Hill, and not patrol officers in cars. Now, LEAD is working toward CD and Saigon expansion.

“It’s been really great to see a different demographic come into the program,” said Gillespie. “They tend to be younger, but a lot of them have aged out of the teen and young adult services, so they’re in between being a young person and being an adult.”

But there is uncertainty about how much funding will be available for the initiative in coming years. Continue reading

Design board looks at First Hill Apartments, Central District Community House project

The First Hill Apartments project set to rise above Union

The First Hill Apartments project set to rise above Union

The East Design Review Board Wednesday night will take up one project set to create new First Hill neighbors for the city’s first pavement park. Meanwhile, an important social services organization is set to begin the design process to create an important new facility in the Central District — and with it, 52 affordable places to live for its clients.

First Hill Apartments — 1320 University
It’s hard to believe the project name First Hill Apartments wasn’t already snatched up. But there you go. Once this University St, just off Broadway development is complete, the name will be off the board.

The planned seven-story, 36-unit building with around 5,000 square feet of commercial space is envisioned as having a “transparent and porous” street-level retail component that features “an integrated design between the building, sidewalk, and park, blurring the public and private areas,” following the design board’s guidance in the sessions first go round in March. Continue reading

#manintree: new to city, homeless on Capitol Hill

Sofa King Chill!! ??? #manintree #beforetheywerefamous

A photo posted by @jimberwolf on

The #manintree is a relatively new Seattle transplant who recently appeared in the Capitol Hill homeless and street community, CHS has been told.

For 24 hours, Cody, the 28-year-old man who suddenly climbed an 80-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle Tuesday caught the attention of the city — and beyond — until nearly as suddenly climbing back to the earth, sitting down, and eating a pear before being taken into custody Wednesday morning.

CHS is not identifying the man beyond his first name that was used by negotiators at the scene and was shouted by some in the crowds that formed to watch and said they knew him.

Cody was taken to Harborview for evaluation following the long standoff that closed streets in the area and snarled traffic. Police Wednesday said they had one previous contact with him. He was not charged in the previous incident and has no other criminal record in the area. His most recent run-ins with the law in Oregon earlier this year were related to parole violations, according to court records.

SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud said the man was not facing any charges shortly after the Seattle tree incident ended.

“We’re more concerned about getting him the mental health (treatment) that he needs,” he said.

UPDATE 10:25 PM: A male with the same name as #manintree has been booked into King County Jail for investigation of malicious mischief. He has not yet been charged. He remains jailed.

UPDATE 3/24/16 1:50 PM: According to SPD, the Tuesday morning climb began with a report of a man up a tree who hit someone below with a thrown apple. Police say the same man had a run-in with police last Saturday the 19th on Capitol Hill:

While on patrol we contacted an unidentified male subject for violation of the Sit and Lie Ordnance. The subject was sitting on the sidewalk with his legs crossed in front of a Starbucks located at 8 East Pike Street. I contacted the male and identified myself as a Seattle Police Officer and advised him about the ordinance he was in violation. I asked the subject for identification. The subject initially refused and began to rant about being harassed and his constitutional rights being violated. I took the time to explain to the subject of the sit and lie ordinance and the process that would occur once he provides his identification which would lead to a written warning for sit and lie ordinance or an infraction. The subject stated he didn’t have a form of identification so instead he verbally identified himself. The subject stated his first name was Edward and last name was Cullen. The subject spelt his last name for me. I performed a check on Edward Cullen but couldn’t find a record despite the subject stating he had Washington State Identification.

Edward Cullen is the name of the vampire founder of the “Olympic coven” in the Twilight series.

“I informed the subject of the discrepancy at which time the subject became agitated and began ranting about being harassed and wanting to leave,” the responding officer in the Saturday morning incident writes. “I explained to the subject that he is delaying his ability to walk away by his ranting about the United States of America’s Bill of Rights.”

The man was arrested but eventually after he provided his real name. In the report, the officer claims the man admitted having suicidal thoughts when he was arrested.

UPDATE 3/28/2016 11 AM: The 28-year-old refused to leave his cell for a bond hearing last week and has yet to be charged in the incident. He remains held in King County Jail.

Pride Lives to put suicide prevention information ‘where we live and play’ on Capitol Hill


The front of the information card the group plans to distribute this weekend…

The 30-month sentence in a federal hate crime case and a weekend malicious harassment incident in Pike/Pine are reminders that fights for equality and tolerance will never really end. They are also reminders of the difficulties that still remain for LGBTQ communities. This weekend, a coalition of neighborhood queer groups are banding together to spread the word about where people can turn to for help:

Pride Lives will take place Saturday, November 14th starting at 2 PM:

Volunteers will walk Capitol Hill with suicide prevention materials we’ve designed. We’ll start at the Cuff Complex and walk across the hill visiting businesses and giving them signs and hand outs to display. This gets needed resource info out to the public right in the spaces where we live and play.

Support for the information cards and posters — as well as the volunteers who will be on the move to distribute them — come from many organizations including several active in the city’s leather scene. The after-party, of course, is at the Cuff. Continue reading

House reps pass Joel’s Law in wake of 2013 death of Capitol Hill man


Capitol Hill’s Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (far left) passed the first bill out of the state House in 2015.

The first bill to make it out of the state House in 2015 was one with close Capitol Hill ties — it was prompted by a Capitol Hill tragedy and introduced by a Capitol Hill representative.

HB 1258, known as Joel’s Law, would strengthen involuntarily commitment guidelines for people suffering from mental illness. If a county decides a person did not meet the threshold for involuntarily commitment, direct family members of that individual could appeal the decision under the new law. The bill passed with a 98-0 vote and now moves to the state Senate.

reuterThe bill was inspired Joel Reuter’s tragic 2013 death on Capitol Hill. Reuter was killed in his Bellevue and E Denny Way apartment by a police sniper when Reuter, suffering from a manic episode, fired a handgun toward police.

Family and friends of Reuter that spoke with CHS agreed that police did everything within reason to deescalate the situation. What Reuter’s family decried was their inability to have their son involuntarily committed for treatment because of strict protections in Washington state law.

Capitol Hill resident Rep. Brady Walkinshaw sponsored the bill after telling CHS last month that it was one of his major priorities in this year’s session.

“It was really exciting to have the the first bill of the year,” Walkinshaw told CHS.

Reuters parents, Doug and Nancy, were instrumental in getting the bill introduced last year when it didn’t make it out of committee. During a hearing on the bill in February, Joel’s father said he and others had tried for months to have a designated mental health professional recommend to a judge that Joel should be involuntarily held at a hospital for treatment. During that time Reuter had a string of run-ins with police and crisis intervention specialists and threatened to kill himself and his parents.

“I was told if he had a loaded gun on his hand with his finger on the trigger, then we could get him help. That’s exactly what Joel had on the morning of July 5th, and the help they gave him was to kill him,” he said.

Mental Health and Substance Use Legislative Forum

Capitol Hill resident and employee of the King County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, Max Lewis invites you to attend the annual King County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Legislative Forum on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave (at Seneca St.), Seattle.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health are issues that touch all of our lives. As a community, we can do better in our response by better understanding behavioral health and working to eliminate the stigma associated with these health conditions. The forum will include:

• King County’s legislative priorities in mental health and substance abuse for 2015.
• Key outcomes and innovations in the delivery of behavioral health services in King County.
• Personal stories of individuals recovering from mental illness and/or substance use.
• A parent perspective from former KIRO-TV reporter and host Penny LeGate.
• The perspectives and priorities of state and federal legislators representing our region.
• A chance to show elected officials how much our community values behavioral health services!

Please join me, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp of the 43rd District, 43rd District Senator Jamie Pedersen, 43rd District Representative Brady Walkinshaw, and about 20 other legislators at this important event.

One year after troubled man killed in E Denny Way standoff, state laws are easing on involuntary treatments



Last July, Joel Reuter was shot and killed by two Seattle SWAT snipers. Reuter, suffering from a manic episode, fired a gun from inside his Bellevue and E Denny Way apartment after an 8-hour standoff.

Six months later, a 7-member jury found both officers had reason to believe Reuter, 28, posed an imminent threat to himself and others. Family and friends of Reuter that spoke with CHS agreed that police did everything within reason to deescalate the situation. What Reuter’s family decried was their inability to have their son involuntarily committed for treatment because of strict protections in Washington state law.

Continue reading

With scenes from across Capitol Hill, film exploring depression and suicide makes Seattle debut

A scene shoot across the bay in West Seattle (Image:

A scene shoot across the bay in West Seattle (Image:

A film with many scenes shot around Capitol Hill — including the old Bauhaus and St. Mark’s, Elliott Bay Book Co., and “several private properties on Federal Ave E, and Harvard Ave E”  — will make its Seattle debut this week in a co-presentation by the Northwest Film Forum and Cinerama. Wednesday’s Cinerama screening of Nothing Against Life will include a Q&A following the film with many of the cast and crew in attendance. Wednesday’s screening benefits Youth Suicide Prevention Program-Washington.

Come celebrate with us the Seattle premiere of Nothing Against Life ! ( We are excited to share the film with the remarkable local community that has supported our efforts from beginning to end, and it gives us all a great deal of pleasure to support the important work of Youth Suicide Prevention Program-Washington. Helping create a space for dialogue about suicide and mental health was always one of our main goals in making the film. Several of our amazing cast and crew members will be attending the premiere.

Tickets available through Cinerama’s website. Invite your friends-

Doors open at 6:00pm, with a brief introduction held at 6:45pm, and the film screening starting at 7:00pm. Q&A to follow.

Hearing on SPD shooting of Capitol Hill man begins Tuesday

Seattle homicide reenacting the position and view of SWAT sniper Geohagan (Image: SPD)

Seattle homicide reenacting the position and view of SWAT sniper Jeff Geohagan, who fatally shot Joel Reuter. (Image: SPD)

Ten minutes before he would be shot and killed by Seattle Police Department snipers on the morning of July 5th, 2013, Joel Reuter wrapped himself in a rainbow flag while holding a handgun inside his Capitol Hill apartment. Earlier that morning, neighbors had called 911 saying they heard gunshots come from Reuter’s window.

The details surrounding Reuter’s eight hour stand-off with police have been documented in a 900-page SPD inquest, recently obtained by CHS. While the fact-finding investigation chronicles much of what happened on the day of Reuter’s death, police investigators did not make any judgements on the SWAT team’s use of force.

Whether or not officers were justified in killing Reuter will be decided in a three-day hearing starting Tuesday. The inquest and hearing are part of the standard investigations following SPD officer involved shootings. Continue reading