Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best announced that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) will field additional officers in nine different neighborhoods for the holiday season.
The “emphasis patrols” will run from Nov. 30 through the end of December, in time with peak shopping season, the press release said. The department has additional plans for the notoriously busy Black Friday and New Year’s Eve.
“We have a duty to make our neighborhoods and communities safer — and we will do all we can to make sure residents and visitors feel safe as they enjoy all that Seattle has to offer during the holiday season,” Durkan said.
There will be an increased presence from SPD officers on foot and by bike in the emphasized areas — 20 percent heavier than in the 2018 holiday season, according to Best.
Durkan launched similar patrols in neighborhoods over the summer and reported “positive results.” However, there was a question about which neighborhoods received the extra attention and why, and if the officers were welcome in the first place.
The mayor proposed $847,000 in the 2020 budget to continue community-based emphasis patrols.
Ticket to ride … away
The King County Council approved $100,000 to fund bus tickets for homeless people to reunify them with their families and take them out of the community — a move that has drawn criticism from one major funder.
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn originally proposed the “Homeward Bound” program in mid-September 2019. At the time, Dunn requested $1 million for the program. That raised questions among advocates, who noted that All Home King County, the regional coordinating body for the homelessness response, already used some of its funding for a similar program.
The budget proviso approved Nov. 20 will set aside a tenth of the amount Dunn originally requested, but it’s still unpopular with United Way of King County, one of the three main funders of homelessness response in the region.
The Streets to Home program helped more than 2,000 people get off the streets, including 116 people who reconnected with friends and family out of town, said Lauren McGowan, senior director for Ending Homelessness and Poverty at United Way of King County.
“Most people experiencing homelessness are from this region — they work here, go to school here and need help paying for housing here,” McGowan said in a press release. “We urge our partners at King County to invest the $100,000 they approved today in our regional diversion system so we can connect our unhoused neighbors with the appropriate housing solutions — including reunification.”
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
Read the full Nov. 27 - Dec. 3, 2019, issue.
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