EO focuses on investigations
Mayor Bruce Harrell issued an executive order July 28 aiming to improve the swiftness of Seattle Police Department (SPD) investigations, with an emphasis on sexual assault cases.
The order requests that SPD reduce the backlog of sexual assault cases “by ensuring that every reported felony crime of violence with sufficient evidence allowing for a follow-up investigation is assigned to a detective” by the end of August. It also directs other departments to provide more resources for victims of crime and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
In a press release, Harrell said that the “order requires an unprecedented evaluation of issues created by SPD’s staffing shortage and systemic problems created over the decades, to understand and alleviate the impact on SPD investigations.”
The Seattle Times and KUOW reported in June that SPD stopped assigning to detectives sexual assault cases that involved adult victims. Reporters Sydney Brownstone and Ashley Hiruko cited a memo sent to Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz that showed that the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit had significantly fewer officers and detectives available to investigate those crimes.
Problems with investigations around sexual assault crimes existed before the SPD began losing officers, said Councilmember Lisa Herbold in the press release, noting that two-thirds of cases were not referred for investigation.
It’s no secret that housing in the Seattle area is expensive, often too expensive for the average worker to afford. So, people may be shocked, but not surprised, to discover exactly how dire things are out there for people who are trying to get by.
According to the 2022 version of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s “Out of Reach” report, a Washington worker would have to make $31.33 per hour working 40 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, roughly $1,629 per month. At that wage, a worker would spend no more than 30 percent of their wages on rent, meaning they are not, in government-speak, “rent burdened.”
People living in the Seattle-Bellevue area, as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, might be surprised that such an apartment exists, and they’d be right. Workers in that geography have to make nearly $8 more per hour to afford a “modest” two-bedroom apartment.
People working minimum wage don’t have a chance. If they make the state’s minimum wage of $14.49 per hour, a person would have to work 72 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.
Read more of the Aug. 3-9, 2022 issue.