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Issue 21: Backwards Progress
City Council gave $1.15 million to the cops
Council’s legislation (Resolution 32050 and Council Bill 120320) that provided SPD with access to $1.15M passed 6-3 during the full council meeting on May 24. Community members showed up to speak strongly in favor of moving that funding out of SPD. Although the vote’s outcome favored the SPD’s demands over those of community, the increased scrutiny provided by the public makes it harder for the cops to get as much money as they used to.
16 people spoke against increased police funding during public comment the day of the vote. No member of the public spoke in favor of more cops.
A lot of people contributed to research summarized in the call-to-aciton and sent emails to their council members.
QoQo created a great video that you should check out if you haven’t seen it.
Cops don’t keep children safe from school shootings
In light of the deadly violence against students and teachers in Uvalde, TX, it is worth visiting some research that was conducted after previous school shootings to see how the presence of an armed officer correlates with injury and death:
“[A]rmed guards were not associated with significant reduction in rates of injuries; in fact, controlling for the aforementioned factors of location and school characteristics, the rate of deaths was 2.83 times greater in schools with an armed guard present.”
Source: Peterson J., Densley J., and Erickson, G. (2021). Presence of Armed School Officials and Fatal and Nonfatal Gunshot Injuries During Mass School Shootings, United States, 1980-2019. JAMA Netw Open. 4(2):e2037394. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.37394
Getting mental health calls out of SPD
We need emergency responses that are outside of SPD’s command. According to a November 2021 Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), the SPD was supposed to deliver to City Council the 9-1-1 call types that it could pass off to a different agency at the beginning of May 2022. This action by SPD would have started the process of fulfilling the recommendations laid out in the NICJR report.
But the SPD has failed to comply. Instead, they provided a “performance analytics and research” presentation on May 10 that contains no deliverable. With self-interest playing a conspicuous role, the SPD continues to minimize and delay the transfer of any 9-1-1 calls and funding out of their department. They will provide their next status update to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on June 28.
What should an alternative response look like?
As discussion around non-police emergency response continues, community members and elected officials may benefit from this resource by Interrupting Criminalization. It includes key questions by which to assess alternative response models, including:
Is the proposed mental health crisis response completely separate from and out of the control of the police? Or is it a "co-response” model?
Who trains 911 operators in implementing the mental health crisis response protocol?
How can you build-in training protocols and trainers that can minimize police response and/or maximize community response?
Will law enforcement have the ability to listen in on calls and decide whether to respond?
Denver’s STAR program
Here is an article describing some of the challenges that the STAR program in Denver has faced. In particular, it outlines how community control of the program has come under threat.
Opportunities for action in Seattle
As always, messages from community members to your councilmembers in favor of reducing SPD’s budget can help them take bold action and invest in nonviolent solutions to harm. Some additional opportunities for learning and action are below.
A local learning community panel on June 16
Transformative Justice: The Landscape in Seattle Today
Want fewer cops?
Use the Mayor’s survey to let him know. Suggested talking points are in this document. If you only have a minute, you can just copy and paste.
Support for Creative Justice
Check out this great Instagram post by Nikkita Oliver about Juneteenth and non-Black folks donating holiday wages.