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Editor’s note: As the general election draws closer, The Seattle Times opinion page is reaching out to candidates around our region to get their take on the issues that matter most to voters.

In our ongoing reader survey, crime continues to be a popular concern for voters across Seattle’s seven City Council districts. (Housing was the No. 1 issue leading up to the primary earlier this month; we queried candidates on that topic in July.)

To get a sense of the candidate’s approach to crime and public safety, we asked them two basic questions: What are your top concerns about public safety? What steps would you take to address these concerns, if elected?

The full responses are below. Some have been lightly edited for style and grammar.

Jump to each district or position


District 1


Lisa Herbold

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Well-staffed, trained, funded, and accountable public safety services are the pressing public safety issues for our city. Leadership that is effective understands that these issues go hand in hand and must be sought together.

Additionally, we must redouble our efforts to comply with the DOJ consent decree. The Community Police Commission, the Office of Professional Accountability auditor, and the mayor’s adviser on police accountability have made a slate of recommendations that the city is now bargaining with the police guild to implement. In particular, the recommendation that the body that hears police officer disciplinary appeals is not comprised of police officers is critical to restoring community trust in the OPA. Leadership means appealing to everyone’s collective best interest that these recommendations not be left on the bargaining table.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Visibility in policing is an important strategy toward clean, safe, and inviting public spaces. I support dedicated walking and bicycle police beats. We should respond to the call of business districts and residential communities for these precinct-level dedicated and proactive patrols, rather than borrowing patrols from other precincts in reaction to crisis-level public safety issues.

I also support the restoration of the popular Community Service Officer program, eliminated during the recession. I’m happy to see that the HALA recommendations include support for this action. CSOs are civilian staff to assist with civil infractions and the processing of paperwork, freeing uniformed police for more proactive and hot-spot work. With SPD’s challenging recruitment goals, this can also be structured as an effective cadet program to insure that potential new officers understand the expectations and values of policing in Seattle.

Finally, I helped the 2007 passage of the policing plan of 105 new officer positions to be filled from 2008-2012, the first new positions to be added since the late 70s. That plan was shelved during the recession. It’s time to get back to it.”


Shannon Braddock

Shannon Braddock

What are your top concerns about public safety?

My top concern about public safety is the loss of trust between the public and the police department. Our city, as the rest of our country, faces issues of racial bias in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. I believe the Mayor and Chief O’Toole are addressing these issues head on and, in partnership with the police union, creating a culture of change that will make all of our communities safer. The shift in police culture will not happen overnight, and we must continue to insist on transparency and accountability from our officers as we support their reform efforts.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

As a City Council member, I would:

  • Support a return to the ideals of community policing. This involves ensuring that the police force reflects and embodies the values of the communities they serve and that the number of officers who walk or bike their beats is significantly increased. Moving police officers out of their cars and onto the streets facilitates close, frequent contact with community members who gradually build trusting relationships with the officers and the department. It is also important for police precincts to build relationships with the neighborhoods throughout our cities.
  • Hire more police officers to meet our city’s needs. Communities feel safe when they know they can report a crime and get a response quickly.
  • Support the continuing role of the Community Police Commission in providing oversight and accountability for our police department.
  • Encourage technology investments that allow our residents to report crimes and our officers to effectively follow through and safely deal with reported criminal activity.
  • Expand the Law Enforcement Diversion Program to help steer non-violent criminals toward rehabilitation and away from further criminal activity.
  • Support more training to address hate crimes, particularly those focused on the LGBT community.”

District 2


Bruce Harrell

Bruce Harrell

What are your top concerns about public safety?

My top concern is the increase in shots fired throughout the city. The city has taken into custody more firearms (548) this year than it has in the last five years. While major crimes (i.e. homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary and larceny) are down 12 percent citywide and 25 percent in South Seattle from a year ago, the public’s perception of these crimes means we need to work relentlessly and increase the resources necessary to stop crime. We must also aggressively combat open air drug use and street disorder and at the same time require a police department that models de-escalation tactics.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

    Seattle must be free to impose reasonable gun safety laws. Therefore I will lead efforts to advocate for Seattle to be out from under the state pre-emption of gun laws as mandated by RCW 9.41.290. I will also deploy the use of an acoustic gunshot locator system to be able to accurately track the location of gunfire in the City. I will also require the police department to focus on hot-spot policing because 5 percent of our city blocks are responsible for 50 percent of all crime. We must add an additional 100 officers by 2017 and implement micro-community policing plans specific to each neighborhood.

For District 2, I will require the deployment of the mobile precinct in certain areas and at certain times; an additional four officers for emphasis patrols in targeted hot-spot areas; four additional bike patrol officers from SPD’s Community Police Team Unit; and provide the community with a sense of an increased police presence. At the same time, we must allocate more resources for our opportunity youth between the ages of 16 and 24. We must also achieve public safety through education and jobs — crime goes down when our people have jobs and a career path.”


Tammy Morales

Tammy Morales

What are your top concerns about public safety?

We all want to enjoy the amenities that our community offers without fear of crime. Whether it’s a walk in the park, returning home from the light rail station or visiting a local business, our residents should know they are safe. Unfortunately, gunfire has increased 24 percent over last year and 40 percent over 2013. This is devastating our families and communities.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

    Reducing violence takes active participation from local government, community leaders and our families. Throughout this campaign, I have been calling for more foot and bike patrols in the district to increase police visibility and responsiveness. But it takes more than increased patrols to stop violence. Long-term solutions require intervention, not just incarceration. I would boost investment in programs that help prevent violence, provide economic opportunity, and support our young people to stay in school.

There is a direct connection between school suspension and participation in the criminal justice system. Partnering with the school district, I would support restorative justice models that move away from suspension and keep kids in school to continue learning.

High unemployment also contributes to high rates of violence. The Seattle economy is booming for some, but District 2 unemployment rates remain high. I want to target outreach to increase diversity in the city’s paid internship programs like the Youth Employment Project. If we can offer young people career paths, that’s good for families and for our communities.

Finally, I would encourage the mayor’s office to complete and release the youth action plans they committed to as part of the Youth Opportunity Summit held in April.”


District 3


Pamela Banks

Pamela Banks

What are your top concerns about public safety?

I’ve lived in the Central District for 20 years and raised my son here. My top concerns are improving safety — we’ve had a particularly terrible summer so far for shootings with reports of shots fired up 33 percent over last year — and rebuilding community trust in the police officers who are entrusted with protecting and serving our communities.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

    I have a good working relationship with the Seattle Police Department and know that many people inside the department are working hard to repair the trust between officers and the community. I also support the efforts of the mayor and Chief O’Toole to comply with federal monitoring and strengthen the public oversight. (My opponent was the only vote against the current chief.)

To rebuild trust, the disciplinary process for officers must be transparent and efficient. Bad cops should be punished, removed from the SPD when necessary. Most of Seattle’s police officers are good people trying to do a difficult job. We should support them with more training, and more officers. Traditional policing can’t solve all the problems of crime, disorder, and fear that affect our neighborhoods. I believe that a community-based approach can help to repair the relationship between police and community and improve safety overall.

Finally, we must unite as a community and country to address the epidemic of gun violence, particularly among youth. This means more intervention, and stronger laws to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.”


Kshama Sawant

Kshama Sawant

What are your top concerns about public safety?

I am deeply concerned about the recent shootings in the Central and International Districts. Just last week, another young black man lost his life in a drive-by shooting in the Central Area.

I am concerned about hate violence against LGBTQ people in Capitol Hill. Harassment and physical attacks have been making Seattle’s historic LGBTQ neighborhood unsafe for the community.

Yet, an all too frequent experience — especially for youth of color — is excessive use of force by the police. Real solutions to public safety problems include fighting economic inequality, funding social services, and holding the police accountable to the community.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

    Public safety problems are structural and rooted in society — we must change the conditions that lead to violence.
  • Massively expand youth jobs and apprenticeships. Programs like Career Bridge and Youth Build should be fully funded. Instead of spending $220 million on a new youth jail, we must build an alternative to the poverty and alienation that make a fertile breeding ground for violence.
  • We need a fully funded LGBTQ community center to educate and build a movement against hate violence.
  • We need an elected civilian oversight committee with authority to hold the police accountable.”

District 4


Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson

What are your top concerns about public safety?

My top public safety concerns include the increase in homelessness in Seattle and our region, the deterioration of our state and federal support for those in need of mental health counseling and support services, the institutional changes that are going to be required for SPD to regain community trust in many neighborhoods throughout the city, the need for more community policing, an increase in the number of officers to reduce response times, and eliminating traffic violence.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

    I believe that the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is a critical step to reducing recidivism and encouraging low-level offenders to seek treatment. Providing training for legal and social service providers as well as on-going collaboration and training with SPD sergeants and officers seems critical to the success and expansion of LEAD. Finding ways to resource effective communications and continuing to foster trust among the clients, service providers, and officers is a key strategy I want to pursue.

I strongly support the city’s goal to achieve zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 through increased funding for street maintenance, sidewalks and bikeways (including the Move Seattle Levy this fall). In 2013, 177 people were killed or seriously injured in traffic collisions in Seattle. We need to continue our focus on traffic calming so we can all feel safe on residential streets. I’ll be an advocate for more speed humps, curb bulbs and traffic circles as well as lowering speed limits on non-arterial streets to 20 mph. Lastly, a “complete streets” approach to each major street maintenance and transit corridor project is needed to ensure all people whether they’re walking, biking, busing or driving, can get where they’re going safely.”


Michael Maddux

Michael Maddux

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Emerging from the consent decree with adequate public oversight; addressing increasing property and violent crime (especially against LGBTQ persons); Ensuring our most vulnerable have access to housing and services, and that we’re not criminalizing poverty”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

    For one, adding permanency to the Community Police Commission and adopting recommendations that will help avoid future consent decrees will go a long way to restoring faith in our police department. In conjunction with this, I will support implementing tools to hire and property train more officers in Seattle. We have seen an increase in property crimes across the city, and more often hear of gun violence in our neighborhoods. With more, property trained officers utilizing community policing (and, wherever possible, recruiting from within our communities), I believe we can make a meaningful impact reducing crime and improving public safety. But this must also come with providing access to housing and other services, and expanding the LEAD program, reducing recidivism.

Through investments in education and economic opportunities, I believe we can make a long-term investment that will improve neighborhoods and quality of life for historically disadvantaged communities. As the only LGBTQ candidate on the general election ballot for city council, I am also particularly concerned with the spike in hate crimes, and will work with council members, neighborhood groups and SPD on improving safety, foot patrols at bar closing, and additional steps that will improve safety in all neighborhoods.”


District 5


Debora Juarez

Debora Juarez

What are your top concerns about public safety?

My top concern for public safety is strengthening the relationship between the Seattle Police Department and the community it serves. Public trust and strong community support of the police results in reduced crime, decreases in uses of force, and fewer complaints against police officers.

As recent federal investigations and high-profile incidents of improper policing have plainly illustrated, SPD is in need of some new approaches. Our police officers deserve tremendous respect for the tough work they do every day, but SPD will be much more effective at preventing crime once meaningful reform measures have taken root in the department.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

The US Justice Department has set out many specific policies that I, a former public defender and King County Superior Court Judge, believe would be helpful in the goal of restoring public trust in the Seattle Police Department. I would like to highlight three actions that I think are the most important:

  • Make the Community Police Commission permanent: The CPC is a crucial tool used to build community relationships, educate the public, enhance transparency, and address structural deficiencies that hinder access to justice.
  • Early intervention system: An Early Intervention System identifies officers who are more likely to engage in potentially damaging behavior before such behavior occurs, which then leads to positive action such as providing more training or changing an officer’s duties.
  • Body Cameras: I am committed to resolving outstanding privacy and legal concerns and equipping our officers with this technology as soon as possible.

Additionally, one bright spot for SPD has been the success of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in reducing criminality. I want this program to be expanded citywide. I am particularly interested to see if it can be used to reduce the high levels of property crime we have in North Seattle.”


Sandy Brown

Sandy Brown

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Public Safety is my top priority. Having received the Seattle Police Officers Guild’s sole endorsement, I look forward to working in collaboration with the SPD to create safer neighborhoods for us all. In the last seven months, I have canvassed more than 9,500 homes in District 5 and found that neighbors are concerned about the relentless increase of property crimes such as car prowls and burglaries. Neighbors and businesses near Aurora Avenue report rampant prostitution and drug sales, as well as street disorder issues related to drug addiction. SPD is understaffed, meaning fewer resources are available to meet these growing needs.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Unlike my opponent, I support the mayor’s plan for a net increase of 100 police officers in the next four years to restore SPD staffing to acceptable levels in North Seattle. Better staffing will support crime prevention programs like community policing and allow officers to patrol our neighborhoods rather than simply answer calls. At the same time, we must fully implement Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion in the North Precinct so we can offer treatment and services rather than simply incarcerating offenders, and we must fully complete training programs that implement the Federal Monitor’s requirements for use of force. I also support use of body cams (with appropriate privacy safeguards) to protect both officers and the public in cases where police misconduct is alleged.

Our neighborhoods need sidewalks to ensure safer routes to schools, transit centers and throughout their communities. We must speed up funding for the Pedestrian Master Plan, which will allow us to build out our system of neighborhood greenways and safe routes to schools. I also believe we should create a series of neighborhood based local-improvement districts in which neighborhoods can decide what is best for their community, be it complete sidewalk infrastructure, or an alternative.”


District 6


Mike O'Brien

Mike O’Brien

What are your top concerns about public safety?

We urgently need police accountability and shared prosperity. Our safety depends on more than just the police — it depends on the entire community working together to create an environment that doesn’t tolerate crime or violence and where everyone has access to opportunity so that no one is left to resort to crime or violence out of desperation. When we have a police force that the entire city trusts and believes in and a community with equal access to opportunities, we will be a city where everyone feels safe.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Two of the areas in which I will focus:

Police accountability: We must accelerate the reforms happening within the Seattle Police Department, from how our officers are trained, to how their actions are reviewed and how discipline is applied. We need to create a culture where all officers clearly understand that behavior like unlawful use of force and biased policing will not be tolerated and back up that culture with leadership that exhibits zero tolerance for bad actors who practice this behavior. There are positive signs that the Seattle Police Department is making this transition, but we need to accelerate that transition.

Invest in our youth instead of locking them up: A single youth in jail is one too many. Companies like Amazon have thousands of job openings that they can’t fill, and we have youth who don’t have the training to get those jobs. This is a failure of our entire society, and our kids are paying the price for this failure, especially youth of color. Programs like Seattle’s Universal Pre-K For All pilot program and King County’s proposed Best Starts for Kids are great steps that will have long term positive impacts on our youth, but we need more. Every child should have secure housing. Every child should have access to healthy food. Every child deserves a high quality education regardless of their zip code. And when youth make mistakes, our community should come together to support that youth in learning from that mistake as opposed to incarcerating them. I will fight for affordable housing for all, access to healthy food in every neighborhood, continued investment in our schools, and alternatives to incarceration that support our kids. These investments will benefit every one of us.”


Catherine Weatbrook

Catherine Weatbrook

What are your top concerns about public safety?

My top public safety concerns are: transportation safety, the ability of our emergency services to quickly respond to all types of incidents, the sustained 27 percent increase in violent crime in the north end, and the increase in illegal drug use, seen in the 58 percent increase in heroin deaths in the past year, and the steepest rise in local drug-caused deaths in 17 years.”

 

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Our streets and sidewalks are in rough shape, people feel unsafe, become injured, all discouraging walking and biking. I would increase the sidewalk repair budget, using developer impact fees to fund this work. We need to be pruning back overgrowth, and placing new lights, so that streetlights light pedestrian areas and are not hidden in trees. Transportation plans need to be coordinated, and prioritize safely and efficiently moving more people. Safe, healthy, all-ages bike options need to be off of arterials when there are options.

In 15 years, our population grew by more than 60,000 people, while emergency responders staffing numbers are decades behind. We continually fall short adding officers to the force, so we need to change our approach. We need a Seattle based police training academy. We need to modernize our response plans for today’s emergency calls, including dispatching social workers when most appropriate. We also need to bring back on foot patrol officers in communities that welcome that approach.

Our community needs more access to Narcan and the needed training. Drug treatment programs and outreach need to be expanded, and we need more community based mental health services to address the causes of many of the addiction problems.”

District 7


Sally Bagshaw

Sally Bagshaw

What are your top concerns about public safety?

My concerns are the following:

  • Homelessness is a public health and public safety crisis — for those who are unsheltered and for everyone in the community.
  • Increased drug use and trade — especially heroin — on our downtown streets and neighborhoods.
  • The lingering impacts of decreased state support for human services and mental health services.
  • Downtown street disorder and neighborhood hotspots known for criminal activity.
  • A police force that is under-staffed for a rapidly growing urban population.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Add police officers to neighborhoods and known crime hotspots

  • Support officers to  be visible and increase walking and bicycle beats
  • Fund 24- hour shelters and mental health centers for those who need shelter
  • Make nurses and emergency health care available at 24 hour shelters in lieu of Harborview Medical Center
  • Provide police with support from their community and leadership
  • Expect officers to know their community, talk with business owners, and work with residents
  • Expand our nationally recognized LEAD Program – a local model that offers support to those who commit low-level drug crimes or people who are prostituted
  • Clean our urban streets and parks and keep them free of graffiti and litter
  • Align our police, city attorney, human service providers and courts to prevent crime and provide coordinated services”

Deborah Zech Artis

Deborah Zech Artis

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Seattle residents have a 1 in 17 chance of falling victim to crime. Violent crimes numbered 3,985, property crimes 40,404 in 2014.  In that time, Seattle had 25 murders, 128 rapes, 1,572 robberies, and 2,259 assaults (source).  My first concern is growing gang activity: a map of greater Seattle gang territories is even shown on Google.  Among my four other leading concerns, only traffic congestion is not especially gang-related:

  • Increased gang activity
  • Increased drug use
  • House break ins
  • Car theft
  • Traffic congestion”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

We must identify the root causes of gang growth and work to weaken them. We must provide our children with attractive alternatives to joining gangs in the first place and we must protect them from predatory gang recruitment.

To do this, we must:

  • support neighborhood organizations like United Hood
  • continue training police officers on how to defuse potentially dangerous confrontations

and use effective negotiation tactics:

  • identify people and organizations that come to our city to foment trouble
  • increase the number of police officers (based on the scientific study the Seattle Police Department is currently running), allowing for more down time for officers, reducing stress both at work and at home and enabling  them to think and react in a more professional and humane manner

Traffic lights must be synchronized to allow for better traffic flows.  All-way crosswalks need to be installed at busy intersections downtown Seattle and to protect pedestrians.”


Position 8


Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Gun violence and low-level quality of life crimes”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

It’s important that we focus on serious crime, like gun violence and residential burglary, and those low-level quality of life crimes that impact many neighborhoods in the city — car break-ins, theft, street prostitution, drug dealing, and fight disturbances usually caused by excessive alcohol consumption. For the more serious crimes, I would encourage a focus on persistent offenders. For the low-level crimes, police presence matters and we need to get past this silly idea that arresting and prosecuting people for theft and breaking into cars is not worth the effort. I’ve attended too many meetings across the city where residents are angry about slow police response and seeming inattention to these low-level quality of life crimes that are very damaging to perceptions of safety and confidence in city government. We can and must do better.”


Jon Grant

Jon Grant

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Police accountability and keeping neighborhoods safe”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Accountability: We must restore trust between our community members and police officers, and that means addressing the culture of impunity that has been established in our police department. There have been hundreds of cases of excessive force and racial profiling, and not a single officer has been fired. Our police officers have a tough job and deserve our respect, but in clear cases of police brutality we see inadequate accountability. To address these concerns, I would work with the mayor’s office and Police Chief O’Toole to fully implement the recommendations of the Community Police Commission. This includes giving subpoena power to the police auditor and eliminating the Discipline Review Board for a system with greater civilian oversight.

Safe Neighborhoods: Too much of our policing resources are focused on street disorder downtown, rather than the property crime and home invasions that are occurring in our neighborhoods. We need to have dedicated walking and biking beat patrols and be less dependent on patrol car policing. This can increase police visibility and encourage familiarity between community members and officers. We should re-institute the popular Community Service Officer (CSO) program to handle urgent civil issues when arrest isn’t the right tool.”


Position 9


Lorena González

Lorena González

What are your top concerns about public safety?

I consider public safety an issue of the utmost importance. I think we have two priorities: continuing efforts to drive accountability and improved community relationships with the Seattle Police Department, and renewing efforts to reduce property theft, street disorder and other illegal activity in our downtown core, neighborhoods and business districts.

As a civil rights attorney and community advocate, I’ve championed increased police accountability and reform of the SPD since 2007.  We need to continue these efforts and work to establish stronger community policing strategies to help turn the tide in neighborhoods facing the biggest public safety challenges.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

I believe that the Seattle Police Department has come a long way in repairing relationships with the public, especially communities of color. However, like any agency, there are areas of improvement both with regard to delivery of police services (such as in neighborhoods like South Park and North Seattle) and with ensuring compliance with the DOJ’s consent decree.  We need to continue efforts to promote transparency and work with the department to build trust between the police and various communities to ultimately make Seattle safer for residents and law enforcement.

Additionally, I am committed to both short and long-term strategies that will have a meaningful impact on increasing public safety, not only in downtown, but also in neighborhoods and business districts throughout the city.  In the short-term we should target problem areas with increased patrols and work to cut-off access to problematic areas. Thinking long-term, we need to look at root causes of disorder to determine how we can prevent safety concerns in the first place. Property crimes are largely motivated by poverty, drug addiction and untreated mental health issues and we must continue to fund programs that get at the heart of these systemic problems.”

 


Bill Bradburd

Bill Bradburd

What are your top concerns about public safety?

Seattle police have an accountability problem. The Department of Justice found more than 200 cases of excessive force, but not one officer was disciplined or fired! And DOJ ruled all supervisors and review systems were a mere rubber stamp allowing bad cops to avoid consequences.

This leads to racially discriminatory policing, excessive force, citizens injured for life who should not even have been stopped or arrested.

De-policing is another concern, as is lack of trust between communities and SPD.

We need systemic change. The SPD is simply not accountable.”

Cite specific steps you would take to address these concerns, if elected.

Accountability is simple: fire bad cops. If the chief will not, the mayor needs to demand it. We should enact Community Police Commission recommendations and establish it as a permanent oversight body with investigatory powers until SPD imposes discipline themselves.  We need to ensure the new police officer union contract does not prevent real accountability as past contracts have. My opponent is endorsed and funded by SPOG (the police officer union) creating a conflict of interest. The council must be independent of SPOG, and I will help ensure the contract is fair but provides real accountability.

We need more officers. We must reduce payouts for officer abuse and use the money for more officers instead.

Another part of restoring trust and effectiveness is re-instituting unarmed Community Service Officers. We need to implement community policing goals and policies that are defined by and unique to each community.

We also need more focus on Family and Education Levy money to vocational training and other skills development, with funding distributed to community organizations supporting immigrant and minority youth and economically disadvantaged families.  Expand community defined diversion programs (such as LEAD) throughout the city; ensure that they are culturally relevant and in particular address youth, minority and immigrant needs.”