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Dear Neighbor,

I hope you are enjoying summer with friends and family. The focus in this monthly update is a potential new law I introduced last month. This law creates effective policing by addressing biases that can hinder it. Across the country, it is known as bias-free policing. At my Education, Equity, and Governance committee on July 20th, I introduced the elements of this potential new law that would codify a bias-free policing policy that was described in the Department of Justice (DOJ) Consent Decree.

The bill could include the following elements:

  • A definition and prohibition against biased policing; 
  • The ongoing collection of relevant data to inform analysis of police behaviors (who gets stopped, arrested and why?); and,
  • The ability of a victim of biased policing to file a legal claim against the City.

Though significant progress has been made on police reform and community policing, the City has not made any binding long-term commitments to bias-free policing. Biased policing is at the forefront of the country’s dialogue at the moment, but there is no guarantee under the current Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) that this will continue when the City is no longer under the Consent Decree. Nothing in the SMC commits the City to bias-free policing in the long term, nor is there a specific legal remedy or route defined for aggrieved parties.

What is driving this effort is the relationship and safety of our community and our police officers. I had representatives from the NAACP, Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, Seattle Human Rights Commission, and Director Pierce Murphy from the Office of Professional Accountability at the committee table. In my outreach with the community and DOJ, I have received overwhelming positive feedback regarding the new law. Our ability to build trust and bridge the divide in our community will be closely linked by making bias-free policing part of City law and our city culture. My bias-free policing legislation would commit the City to prioritizing constitutional policing on an ongoing basis under Seattle law.

District 2 Office Hours: 

Please join me at my next District 2 office hours on Thursday, August 11, 3:00 – 5:00 pm at the NewHolly Branch Library (7058 32nd Ave S #104). If you would like to reserve one-on-one time, please email Bruce.Harrell@Seattle.gov.

Additional developments and issues highlighted in this email update: Washington State Preschool success; Chinatown-International District public safety plan; Duwamish River cleanup funding; and Families and Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee.

Washington State Preschool

In the last two newsletter updates, I have discussed the steps we are taking to improve Seattle’s Preschool Program and the real investments already being made in District 2 to help our three-and four-year-olds. We also have great news to report from Washington State’s preschool program. A national report by the Learning Policy Institute points to Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program as one of the best in the country. Washington, along with Michigan, West Virginia and North Carolina, exemplified great state preschool programs in terms of quality benchmarks (each state meets at least 8 of the 10 quality benchmarks of the National Institute for Early Education Research), scaling up without sacrificing quality and enrollment diversity. Created in 1985, Washington’s program now serves 10,000 of the state’s most vulnerable children. Synergy between Seattle’s Preschool Program and the State’s program is critical—some three-and four-year-olds enrolled receive both City and State funding. Both programs continue to tackle similar issues related to increasing enrollment by 2020, classroom space issues, and program funding. The Seattle Times reported on this national report on June 29th (http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/new-report-praises-quality-of-washingtons-preschool-program/). 

Chinatown-International District Public Safety Plan

Late last year, the City convened the Chinatown-International District (CID) Public Safety Task Force to develop an action plan to improve public safety and the built environment in the neighborhood. Over the last six months, my office was part of the taskforce to develop this action plan. The biggest takeaway from the stakeholder process was insufficient communication and unclear points of contacts at the City. The plan was released this month with 19 specific recommendations covering: 1) Improve communication and coordination between the CID and the City; 2) Target Criminal Activities and Related Environmental Factors; and 3) Foster Public Safety through a Vibrant and Healthy Neighborhood. 

Action directed by Mayor Murray and the City in order for the plan to be implemented immediately and sustained are: 1) a new civilian position at the Seattle Police Department who will be trained around community policing and strategies to address the criminal activities in CID; 2) Department of Neighborhoods will help fund a position based in CID to provide public safety coordination between City departments and residents/organizations in CID; 3) implement physical improvements over the next 12-18 months, including maintenance and ongoing program activities in parks, alleys and plazas and green spaces that will improve the built environment; and 4) improve 911 responsiveness and maintain high visibility of police patrols. 

I believe the action plan is an important signal by the City to say we are listening and we care. The safety of residents, patrons, and the well-being of businesses in the Chinatown-International District are a priority for the City. However, even with a great action plan, the most important thing at the end of the day are results. We need to hold our feet to the fire, measure the plan’s recommendations and results on a quarterly basis, and sustain this over many years. I am optimistic about this action plan to improve public safety in the Chinatown-International District.

$250,000 for Duwamish River

This month, the City awarded $250,000 to four community projects to support the communities around the Duwamish River during the Superfund clean-up. 


2015 Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Awards

  • $46,000 to support business recruitment and attraction in the South Park business district;
  • $70,000 to develop a peer training program for Vietnamese and Latino subsistence fishers about fishing regulations, sustainable resource protections, and fish consumption health advisories;
  • $75,000 to fund a program manager to continue the Duwamish Valley Green Spaces program; and create and teach a new outdoor air quality curriculum for the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps, including hands-on experience locating, installing, and maintaining a green wall; and
  • $59,000 to pilot a co-production and training sewing studio, create opportunities for flexible employment via freelance sewing opportunities, and continue to revitalize the local sewn-goods economy through resource and coalition development

Additional funding will continue in subsequent years as part of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund that was created in 2014 to support the communities around the Duwamish cleanup. Last year, $250,000 was awarded to 13 community projects. As you may recall in 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the final cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site. The cleanup will remove 90 percent of the pollution in the river with an estimated project cost of $342 million. The Lower Duwamish Waterway Group consisting of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle and the Boeing Company, have already invested $150 million to clean up the river. The City is committed to the Duwamish cleanup and supporting nearby neighborhoods.

Erin Okuno, District 2 Resident on Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee

I recently appointed Erin Okuno, a resident of District 2, to the Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee. Erin is the executive director of the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC), a coalition of community based organizations, educators, community leaders, parents, and concerned SE Seattle residents working to improve education for all children. Erin leads SESEC’s efforts to address poor educational achievements and making sure investments are made in SE Seattle schools. Being the leader Erin is, children from District 2 and all over the city will benefit from her ideas and advocacy. Way to go Erin!

Take care and have a great week.

Bruce A. Harrell
President, Seattle City Council - District 2
Chair: Education, Equity, & Governance Committee
206-684-8804

seattle.gov/council/harrell | Office: 206-684-8804 | PO Box 34025 Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Copyright © 2016 Seattle City Council, All rights reserved.


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