Mayor Ed Murray announced Friday that his 2015 City of Seattle budget proposals will include a boost in the number of police officers serving the city and increased spending on homeless and mental health services. But he also promised that better policing is a priority.
Calling the proposals “fairly fluid” due to budget issues at the federal and state levels, the mayor said an improving economy and new “efficiencies” would enable the city to add new programs in 2015. Murray said he would push for the hiring of 50 new SPD officers to join the 1,300 already serving the city with a goal to add 100 officers before the end of his term.
SPD Staffing by Quarter, 2014
Murray said his SPD budget priorities for 2015 were to include more “civilian expertise,” be more data driven, include more community, and to have more officers.
Murray also said Friday his administration will hire a civilian chief information officer to help ensure “better policing.” New Chief Kathleen O’Toole is deploying CompStat-driven patrol decisions that have driven how big city forces like NYPD are utilized.
“More accountability remains our priority,” Murray said Friday.
Murray matched his SPD budget announcement with priorities for human services spends in 2015 including money to “backfill” the DESC of Seattle service centers budget, support Project 360 to aid homeless youth, and help fund the Urban Rest Stop hygiene center.
Murray also pledged to fund an initiative to increase capacity at Seattle shelters to help the nearly 3,000 people who sleep on the streets and create a program to transition “longterm stayers” to permanent housing. Earlier this year, CHS reported on the increase in trespass enforcement around Capitol Hill as the homeless population in the central city continues to climb.
The announcements come as the Murray administration has scrambled to address concerns over a rise in street crime on Capitol Hill and in the downtown core.
Earlier this month, SPD increased patrols, put more officers on foot beats, and began deploying gang units in Pike/Pine in an effort to quell a spike in muggings, pickpockets, and assaults. Murray also responded to calls from business owners and the Chamber of Commerce with a pledge of a new “community policing” plan for the East Precinct to be unveiled by Capt. Pierre Davis “soon.”
“The short-term strategy is obviously we’re saturating this place not just with precinct resources but with city-wide resources,” SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole told CHS about the efforts around Pike/Pine. “The long-term strategy is that we’re developing a community policing plan for every neighborhood of the city.”
In the meantime, officials are trying to be creative about solving Pike/Pine’s crime issues until more officers can be brought onboard and the new funding kicks in. Starting this weekend, Seattle Parks says it will leave the sports field lights on in Cal Anderson until 2:30 AM to help the neighborhood’s nightlife revelers make it home safely.
UPDATE: Here’s the full announcement from the mayor’s office:
Murray announces $3.3 million for new officers and $2.75 million for human services, including $1.5 million for more homelessness services
SEATTLE (Sept. 12, 2014) - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that his 2015-16 budget to be formally proposed on Sept. 22 will make new investments in public safety and the safety net, and today provided detail for his plans to fund best practices both in the police department and in homelessness services.
“This administration will use the budget process to drive more transparency and innovation in City government, as well as better organization and performance,” said Murray. “Public safety is our number one priority, and my budget for the police department reflects these basic budgeting principles by investing in best management practices, better use of data and more effective use of resources to get better outcomes.”
Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.
“CompStat will take the police department to the next level in observing, mapping and tracking patterns of crime and disorder, and in mobilizing, analyzing and evaluating officer response,” said Murray. “It is a major reform that I believe is the key to our future success in crime prevention, in efficient and effective deployment of SPD resources, and in police accountability.”
CompStat will be used in conjunction with the “micro-policing plans” that Chief Kathy O’Toole will deliver and make publicly available by the end of 2014, Murray said. The plans will reflect the specific needs and circumstances of each of the unique neighborhoods of the city, and are intended to reconnect officers with the communities they serve. CompStat will provide timely and accurate data to inform an ever-evolving patrol strategy, focusing resources on areas of concern and ensuring that police are present and visible where needed most.
Murray said O’Toole is also conducting a resource allocation study of position assignments within the department, and will seek to reassign officers from lower priority work to the high-priority work of patrol wherever possible. Additionally, Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $3.3 million to fill every recruit class available to the City of Seattle at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center in both 2015 and 2016.
“I pledged during the campaign that we would add one hundred fully trained officers by the end of my four-year term, and my budget proposal puts us on a stable path to get there,” said Murray. “By the end of 2015, based on current forecasts for attrition, we will be halfway toward my goal of one hundred additional officers, and my next two-year budget will plan to close the remaining gap. By the end of 2016, my budget will fund the highest number of fully trained officers in SPD’s history.”
Murray said his 2015-16 budget proposal will fully fund compliance with the federal court order.
Murray also announced plans in his 2015-16 budget to add $2.75 million in new investments in human services. He said his proposal will leverage new resources for homelessness services in particular, including expanding the best-practice strategy of rapid rehousing, and creating capacity at homeless shelters by moving long-term stayers into permanent housing – a suite of new investments in homelessness services totaling $1.5 million annually in 2015 and 2016.
“Investments in rapid rehousing are more successful and less costly than any other strategy for assisting unsheltered individuals,” said Murray. “I signed onto the First Lady’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, and my budget proposal includes funding for a rapid rehousing program targeted at veterans that will help us achieve this important goal.”
Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $600,000 annually to fund a program for 150 homeless single adults, targeting veterans, to receive rapid placement into housing, rental assistance, and employment support. Murray’s budget proposal will also fund efforts to move 25 of the longest-term stayers at homeless shelters into permanent housing, which will free up 3,375 shelter bed nights.
“There are more than 2,300 individuals living unsheltered in Seattle on any given night, and emergency shelters are at capacity, said Murray, who said his budget proposal commits $410,000 annually to provide subsidies for rental assistance, congregate housing or shared housing for long-term stayers, and leverages funding from the United Way of King County in a dollar-for-dollar match. “Shelters are meant to serve a temporary need, but a number of individuals are staying in shelters long term, to where one quarter of shelter users consume three quarters of shelter bed nights. Moving long-term stayers into permanent housing will help those individuals and increase shelter bed capacity for those currently without shelter.”
Additional human service investments in Murray’s 2015-16 budget include:
A one-time matching contribution toward the capital redevelopment of the North Public Health Center located near North Seattle Community College ($500,000),
Mitigating proposed budget cuts at Seattle/King County Public Health ($400,000), including:
o Supporting maternity services; women, infant and children services; and family planning services at Greenbridge Public Health Center ($150,000)
o Access and outreach services for new enrollments in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,
o Family planning health educators ($50,000),
o HIV/STD education and outreach ($50,000),
o Gun violence prevention ($50,000)
Funding for an additional 40,000 to 100,000 lbs. of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, or other proteins for more than 40 participating food banks, meal programs, and other providers ($100,000),
Support for the Breakfast Group Mentoring Program, a program providing young men of color in Seattle Public Schools with wrap-around services, individualized instruction plans and mentoring to complete their secondary education and access higher education or employment opportunities ($100,000),
Support for the Rainier Valley Corp to recruit emerging leaders from diverse immigrant communities and provide training, support and mentorship ($75,000), and
Funding to fill a gap in senior center services in Lake City ($70,000).