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LEAD Letter; Resolution Regarding Collective Bargaining with SPOG ; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Discussion with Chief Best; Information on Novel Coronavirus

LEAD Letter

In the 2020 City budget, the City Council added new funding to expand the geographic scope of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, in addition to the funding included in the Mayor’s proposed budget, $1.5 million from the Ballmer Group, and funding from King County and other sources.  This funding would allow LEAD to reach into more neighborhoods to respond to public safety and disorder issues that are identified by the communities where we live and work.

Members of the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee sent a letter to the Mayor this week about the timing of program expansion. The letter requests that the Mayor execute a contract for the additional funds by March 1st and commit the City to providing the additional funding approved by the Council in 2020.

The letter notes that time is of the essence and that there is a backlog of 300 individuals that could begin receiving case management services and still others who cannot even be referred. The purpose of the Council’s additional funding is to expand capacity, and provide new referrals in real time for greater responsiveness to communities, including Business Improvement Areas, who identify problems.

The Council also approved funding in 2020 for an analysis to: 1) determine how the LEAD program operates within a logic model that reduces reliance on the criminal justice system; 2) identify specific performance measures that relate to the logic model and also informs how there is a reduction in reliance on the criminal justice system and a reduction in public disorder issues; and 3) identify the data necessary to support the performance measures.

You can read the letter here.

Resolution Regarding Collective Bargaining with SPOG

In late 2018 the Council voted to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). The contract runs through the end of 2020, so in coming months negotiations for a new agreement will begin for a contract in 2021.

Section 4.04.120 of the Seattle Municipal Code includes sections pertaining to the collective bargaining process with SPOG and SPMA (the Seattle Police Management Association).

Section 4.04.120.F of the Seattle Municipal Code requires a public hearing to give the public the opportunity to testify “on the effectiveness of the City’s police accountability system” before collective bargaining begins. This was adopted in Ordinance 122809, passed in 2008.

This is a requirement unique to the SPOG and Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) bargaining processes (it exists for no other city unions) out of recognition that, “the City and the public have a strong interest in the conduct and operation of the police department given its impact on public safety.”

SMC 4.04.120.G states, “The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward the interests expressed at the public hearing. Those suggested changes that are legally required to be bargained with the SPOG, SPMA or their successor labor organizations will be considered by the City, in good faith, for inclusion in negotiations but the views expressed in the public hearing will not dictate the city’s position during bargaining.”

On December 5th, the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education (GESCNAE) Committee held the required public hearing.  After the Council adopted new committees earlier this month, responsibility for public safety issues passed to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that I now chair.

To address section G of SMC 4.04.120, the Council adopted Resolution 31535 in 2014, and earlier adopted Resolution 30871 in 2006 in advance of negotiations.

On January 28 the Public Safety and Human Services committee passed a resolution I sponsored along similar lines as the 2006 and 2014 resolutions, “affirming the City’s good faith intent to consider raising in the collective bargaining process for the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) 2021 contract renewal police accountability proposals that have been identified by the public and the City’s police oversight agencies.”

The resolution includes letters from the three accountability bodies, the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability regarding collective bargaining.

The resolution notes the sacrifice and contributions of SPOG members, and the right and all public employee unions to collectively bargain for wages, hours and working conditions.

It summarizes comments heard during the public hearing as: “testimony from individuals and on behalf of interest groups largely echoed the requests made by the CPC, OIG, and OPA, and included support for full implementation of the Police Accountability Ordinance (Ordinance 125315), support for additional police training including de-escalation and mental health training, support for bringing the City into compliance with the United States Department of Justice Consent Decree with regard to police accountability, opposition to racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system, support for new citizen review powers, support for new rights for complainants, support for making the role of the discipline appellate process consistent with the values of transparency and accountability, support for SPD officers to follow department policies and when privately employed, support for third party investigations, support for the hiring of additional officers, support for the protection of workers’ rights as maintained through the collective bargaining process, support for more outreach to the community on issues of police accountability, and support for requiring officers to have a relationship/ tie to the community they serve;”

The resolution states, “The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward these interests through various means including, but not limited to, enactment of appropriate legislation, development of collective bargaining goals and objectives, and facilitating community police dialogue. To the extent that Washington law requires any changes to be bargained with employee representatives, the City will seek to discharge such obligations in good faith.”

The legislation moves to the Full Council on February 10th.

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Discussion with Chief Best

After the Downtown shootings last week, I invited Police Chief Best to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting. I appreciate her willingness to attend on short notice.

Her remarks included a presentation on crime trends in the West Precinct, and specifically in the Downtown Commercial area. The presentation also includes a focus on: Immediate Response Plans, Investigation & Intervention; Physical Environment & Activation, and Community Partnership and Collaboration.

Much has been said about the scores of previous arrests the three suspects. One of the action items that the Chief spoke about was their work with prosecuting attorneys to focus resources on the most significant/violent actors.

Here’s a link to the meeting at the Seattle Channel.

Information on Novel Coronavirus

On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global Public Health Emergency. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also closely monitoring the situation and has a summary available here.

As you may know, public health authorities have confirmed a case of novel coronavirus in Washington State.  Seven additional people have tested negative, 8 people have results pending, and 67 close contacts are being monitored. “Close contacts” are defined as: someone who has been within 6 feet, for more than ten minutes, of an individual with confirmed infection or has had direct contact with secretions from a person with an infection. King County Public Health has a list of resources here, updated as new information becomes available.

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