City Auditor Releases Hate and Bias Crimes Report
As chair of the Council committee with oversight of civil rights issues, I thank the City Auditor’s Office for their report released earlier this week, Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response, and Reporting in Seattle.
Addressing hate and bias crimes is vitally important, especially given the national political environment. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) noted an increase in reported bias crimes and incidents in the first half of 2017 during last week’s briefing before the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee. An assault on a transgender woman last weekend shows the need for continued vigilance on hate crimes.
This Audit continues the work begun by the City Auditor at the request of former Councilmembers Clark, Licata and Rasmussen, who in 2008 requested an audit of Seattle’s Enforcement of Bias Crimes.
The audit found that changes in SPD reporting procedure would ensure hate crimes are more appropriately recorded and investigated; SPD patrol officers would benefit from regular formal training on hate crimes; more sophisticated use of data could inform prevention efforts; increased cooperation among City departments would improve prevention and response efforts, and regional coordinates of hate crime response efforts will improve response efforts. The report makes nine recommendations to implement these findings. The audit notes:
“We make 9 recommendations to improve the City’s efforts to prevent, respond, and report hate crimes. We recommend that SPD should create a hate crime training curriculum, create more guidance on how to recognize and respond to hate crimes, and address coding issues that may be preventing some hate crimes from being appropriately categorized. SPD should also pilot using hate crime data for prevention purposes, with the support of University of Washington researchers. We recommend that SOCR and SPU consider posting hate crime data online to provide Seattle residents with a more complete picture of hate crimes reported in the city. Finally, we recommend that City leaders support a regional or statewide coordination of hate crime efforts to further the City’s impact of addressing these crimes. SPD, SOCR, and SPU agree with all the recommendations.”
I thank the Seattle Police Department for their responsiveness to the report’s recommendations regarding bias category coding, their work to replace their records management system, and commitment to gathering data to support bias-crime investigations and analysis.
The report notes that in July SPD implemented two recommendations regarding bias category coding. The first is the use of “unknown” as a bias code, which may have resulted in undercounting during 2012-2016. The audit recommended eliminating this category, which SPD did. The second is to align SPD bias codes with the Seattle Municipal Code section for “Malicious Harassment” to include “age, parental status, marital status, and political ideology.” SPD implemented this recommendation in July as well.
I also thank SPD for its work with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR); the report notes ongoing work between SPD and SOCR to establish a protocol for formally documenting how hate incidents and crimes are handled when they are reported to SOCR.
I look forward to the second phase of the audit, which will focus on how the City can improve its use of hate crime data.
Chief O’Toole issued a statement about SPD’s efforts regarding hate crimes, and her request for a review of the findings; the audit includes an SPD response letter. The Seattle Police Department earlier this year introduced its Bias/Hate Crime Data dashboard, with data from 2012 on, that allows for searches by bias category, precinct, and neighborhood.
I requested this audit last year, in the wake of an attack on a local LGBTQ leader.
Bus Service Changes Next Week
King County Metro will be adding bus service beginning on September 23. Some of the changes will come from investments by the City of Seattle from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Improvements in District 1 include:
- Route 50 will operate every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
- Route 60 will improve service frequency to every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. on weekdays.
- Route 131 will increase frequency northbound to every 15 minutes between 6:15 and 9:30 a.m.
- Late night/early morning “Night Owl” service will be added for Route 120 and the C Line.
Additional details for each route are listed at Metro’s Service Change website.
City Hall Updates
It’s been a tumultuous week or so–we’ve now had three mayors in a little over a week, after having 3 in just under 16 years.
Per the City Charter, Tim Burgess will serve as Mayor through the certification of the November election, likely November 28. This coming Monday, September 25, he will present a proposed budget to the Seattle City Council. The Council will then begin consideration of the proposed budget.
With Mayor Burgess departing the City Council, Council President Bruce Harrell has proposed a process for appointing an interim Councilmember for Council Position #8, linked here. The interim Councilmember will serve until November 28, when the election results are certified.
Marra Farm Fall Fest
This Saturday, September 23, Solid Ground is hosting a potluck for the 16th annual Marra Farm Fall Fest. There will be free food, live music, fresh apple cider, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities.
If you’re unfamiliar with Marra Farm, it’s an urban community farm that practices sustainable agriculture and provides education and food security. Located in South Park on 8.7 acers it is home to several gardening groups: the Giving Garden, Mien Community Gardens, P-Patch Garden and Large-Tract Plots, Children’s Garden and Seattle Urban Farm Project.
Hope to see you there:
- Date: Saturday, September 23
- Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
- Location: Marra Farm, 9026 4th Ave S
- Price: Free
Fair Work Center Legal Clinic 1-Year Celebration
The Fair Work Center empowers workers to achieve fair employment. As a hub for workers to understand and exercise their legal rights, and improve working conditions, the Fair Work Center also provides free legal clinics for workers seeking advice about potential workplace violations. This legal clinic is celebrating its first year of operation with assistance and support from the City of Seattle and the funding of the Office of Labor Standards.
If you want to support the Fair Work Center you can join them for their one-year legal clinic celebration and fall fundraiser on Wednesday, September 27th between 5:30pm and 7:30pm at Melrose Market Studios (1532 Minor Ave).
Diaper Need Awareness Week
On Monday September 25th, in honor of Diaper Need Awareness Week, September 25th through October 3rd, I will have the honor of presenting the Diaper Need Awareness Week Proclamation to Westside Baby. “Diaper need” is the condition of not having a sufficient supply of clean, dry diapers to ensure that infants and toddlers are healthy, dry and clean.
It is estimated that over 21,000 children aged five and under in King County live below the federal poverty line. National surveys report that 48% of families’ delay changing a diaper to extend their supply and one in three parents experience diaper need at some time while their children are under 3 years of age. This proclamation recognizes that economic opportunity for individuals can lead to improved health for families and their communities. A sufficient supply of diapers can cost families upwards of $100 a month and government assistance programs such as WIC do not cover the cost of diapers.
The lack of clean diapers can adversely affect the immediate and long term health of infants, toddlers and their families. Seattle is the proud home to many organizations such as WestSide Baby that recognize the importance of diapers in combating social, economic, racial and health inequities and aim to support healthy families and communities. To learn more about this issue or to support organizations in our region working to combat diaper need check out the National Diaper Bank Network and Seattle’s very own WestSide Baby.