Public Safety & Gun Violence
EXPAND DIVERSION PROGRAMS LIKE L.E.A.D.
Accountability for low-level crime shouldn’t be fines and jail, rather diversion must be the answer. Preventative diversion programs require investments, but have better outcomes and save tax dollars in the long run. It’s also the right thing to do.
Following the successful completion of the L.E.A.D program, participants were 58% less likely to be arrested again and nearly half of the participants reported little to no further contact with law enforcement. Participants were also significantly more likely to obtain housing, employment and legitimate income 18 months after their L.E.A.D referral compared to prior to their referral. Diversion is a healthy alternative to incarceration—which only aggravates the cycle of poverty and trauma for low-level offenders.
Thanks to advocacy groups and gun violence prevention champions, Washington State has implemented meaningful reforms that keep us all safer, but there is more we can do at the local level. In Seattle, we must do everything possible to eliminate access to firearms by children, people intent on causing harm, and neighbors, loved ones, and community members in crisis, enforcing the already strong gun laws we, as a community, have instituted.
I vow to work tirelessly with local, state, and federal officials to:
- Increase support for community-based programs and gun violence prevention work
- Target People Who “Lie and Try” to Buy Guns
- Close the Charleston Loophole
- Overhaul and enhance ATF enforcement
- Ban Untraceable Firearms
- Additional funding and expand access to mental health services
- Invest in suicide and domestic violence prevention programs
No gun violence prevention policy is complete without recognizing the impact that suicide and domestic violence have on our community. Firearm suicides account for 75% of all gun deaths in our state. We must intervene when individuals pose a risk to themselves, and support suicide prevention programs. I will work to ensure greater access to mental health services, implement a 48 to 72 hour waiting period for obtaining firearms, and establish standards for safe storage of firearms.
Additionally, women and children are five times more likely to be killed by a firearm while in an abusive household. When discussing gun violence prevention, we must ensure that we are not only decreasing access to dangerous firearms, but also providing protections and a safe way out for those suffering from domestic violence. On City Council, I will ensure that Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Extreme Risk Protections Orders (ERPOs) are properly implemented and expanded upon when needed.
EXPANDING COMMUNITY SERVICE OFFICER PROGRAM
Take away the weapons and expand the relationship with community members and what do you have? A community service officer. Having officers from the communities they serve working towards public trust and connection first and foremost is key to community safety.
CRIME PREVENTION THROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN (CPTED)
Working with SDOT, community partners, and the police, I will work to create CPTED improvements in areas vulnerable to crime, as I did at 21st and Union after the tragic shooting of a young man outside a corner store earlier this year. Working with residents and local businesses, I helped develop a plan to activate a once-vacant lot and worked with city officials to get environmental improvements moved through faster. There are simple and inexpensive ways of reducing crime, from traffic slowing, hedge trimming, and good lighting. Research has shown that improved urban conditions—such as being less noisy and having more greenery—can significantly decrease crime rates.
Alongside reducing crime, my plan would include green-space development and preservation as to foster and reshape our neighborhoods into stronger communal spaces. Managing urban vegetation can create a reassuring environment for our District 3 neighbors, increasing citizen surveillance through interaction while reaffirming a sense of responsibility and togetherness within our community. It won’t stop crime on its own, but as part of a multi-pronged strategy, it is an effective and necessary tool in making our neighborhoods safer.
ARTS PROGRAMS AND APPRENTICESHIPS
We need to invest in the future of our youth and ensure that every child, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to thrive. Too often, communities without a lot of avenues for opportunity—whether it stems from systemic barriers in place because of their race, gender, gender identity or expression, sexuality, impairment, or economic status—are the ones most heavily impacted by gun violence and petty crime. We need to support youth by providing access to counselors and mentors, apprenticeship programs, youth employment, arts programs, and other opportunities that have been shown to stem gun violence.
We should create new apprenticeship programs and bolster existing ones so that students from all communities get a head start on tech jobs, green jobs, trades work, and other living wage union jobs after high school, their AA degree, or university.
BRING BACK THE COMMUNITY COUNCILS
Connected communities are safer communities. Communities who feel like they have a voice will be more engaged with the city and more able to create meaningful change. Let’s restore the community council system again and work to make sure they represent the diverse voices of every community.
STABILIZE SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT STAFFING
In a recent press conference, Chief Best said that the department was losing officers faster than it could hire them and that this was partly due to low morale from lack of support from elected officials. Around that same time, a shooting on Queen Anne and a stabbing in Cal Anderson—along with various other emergencies—stretched the SPD to its maximum capacity. More police aren’t always the answer, but we need to stabilize SPD staffing so we can handle emergencies effectively. For a city of our size, we have a small force. Let’s aim for a stable force of 1500 police officers (and add on community service officers to that number to increase our capacity). I believe it’s possible to both support the police and create accountable structures for policy, and that’s exactly how I’ll lead on City Council.
Oakland was facing an increase in violent crime, and their natural impulse was to increase the size of the police force. When for various reasons they were unable to do so, they tried a new strategy they call “Operation Ceasefire.” The goal is to work with community groups, and those most likely to be impacted by violence, and to help them choose a different path. The program resulted in a decrease in violent crime without increasing the number of police officers.
Community-based gun violence prevention works—in the first five years that Operation Ceasefire was fully implemented, Oakland saw a 48% reduction in gun violence. It took a lot of trust between their police department, community groups, and communities experiencing high levels of gun violence, but with time Operation Ceasefire worked. Seattle, in partnership with the community, should explore a similar model.
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