Q: How will you scale up non-law enforcement alternatives to mental health and homelessness?
As a civil rights lawyer for more than a decade, I worked tirelessly to get justice for victims of police violence and racially biased policing across Washington and Seattle. As Mayor, I will work to address our city’s public safety challenges while ensuring that we have true public safety where our Black, brown, and indigenous community members do not have to fear police violence.
Right now we are asking the police to do too many things. Studies show that 50% of police calls do not need armed sworn officers to respond. My administration will scale up the Community Service Officer program to improve response for non-violent crimes, including property crimes. Community service officers can be hired and trained faster than police officers and are less expensive for the city and more responsive to neighborhood safety concerns. We will also increase funding for programs like Health One Mobile units, so that appropriately trained professionals are responding to behavioral health emergencies.
Scaling up these units will allow our police force to shift their focus to more serious violent crime. And I will hold them accountable to do that job effectively and in a manner that respects the civil rights, dignity and liberty of all Seattleites.
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Q: How will you lead changes in providing public safety to those communities that have historically had poor interactions with police and may also have higher crime rates? How would you increase police accountability?
As a civil rights lawyer for more than a decade, I worked tirelessly to get justice for victims of police violence and racially biased policing across Washington and Seattle. In one of my most high-profile cases, Monetti v. Seattle, I sued the Seattle Police Department on behalf of a young Latino man after a detective threatened to “beat the Mexican piss” out of him, while other officers stood around observing and failing to intervene. My work on this and other civil rights cases is what fuels my vision and commitment to transform Seattle’s approach to public safety and accountability. We need real police accountability that meets this civil rights moment, and we need leaders with a track record to implement it. In 2017, I worked with the community to champion the passage of landmark legislation to expand civilian oversight of the police department, establish the Office of Inspector General for Public Safety, and make the Community Police Commission permanent. As the next Mayor, I will bring together community, council and labor to ensure that the next contract with the police officer’s guild includes critical components of the 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance, which I worked to pass, that have been left on the table by past mayors. There will be zero tolerance for racial bias or excessive use of force.
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Q: How will you improve emergency service response times without simply enlarging the police department? What alternative solutions to police do you like for preventing or reducing crime?
Armed law enforcement should not be responding to a mental health crisis or a non-violent situation.
This is not only an unnecessary use of resources but too often results in needless death and trauma in our Black, brown, and indigenous communities. My administration will work to shift funds toward programs like the Health One Mobile units, the Crisis Response Team, alternative community safety programs like Community Service Officers, and other public-health models that rapidly address the health and crisis needs of those experiencing homelessness.
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