by Paul Kiefer
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
The last time the City of Seattle launched a new department — Seattle Information Technology, which brought IT staff from across the city under one roof — the consolidation took years. “In contrast, we had about eight months,” said Chris Lombard, who leads the City’s newest department: the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC), which began work at the beginning of June.
In some ways, creating the CSCC involved fewer moving parts than the infamously messy set-up of the massive citywide IT department. When plans to move the parking enforcement unit to the CSCC fell through this spring, Lombard was left overseeing a single, crucial service: Seattle’s 911 call center. The center, historically a civilian unit inside the Seattle Police Department, will play a key role in the City’s efforts to shift away from a police-centric approach to public safety, and the City’s decision to house the 911 call center in the new department was one of the first concrete steps in that effort.
Continue reading Seattle’s Newest Department Aims to Change the City’s Response to Crisis Calls
by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)
The Seattle City Council voted on Monday, Sept. 13, to shore up several of its own priorities for rethinking public safety using $15 million in savings from salaries left unspent by the Seattle Police Department (SPD) after another year of abnormally high attrition.
The council left almost two-thirds of the $15 million in the department’s budget, allowing SPD to cover the costs of downsizing — updates to timekeeping software to help deploy a smaller number of officers more efficiently, for example. Additionally, the council lifted a trio of provisos on the department’s budget, releasing roughly $8 million for the department to use as it wants.
Of the $5.2 million the council shifted out of SPD’s budget, $3 million will go to the Human Services Department (HSD) to fund grants to nonprofits specializing in alternatives to policing. The council set aside another $700,000 to stand up a new civilian crisis-response unit tentatively called Triage One.
Continue reading Last-Minute Push for SPD Hiring Incentives Fails
by Paul Kiefer
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)
By next summer, Seattle’s emergency call dispatchers may have a new crisis response team at their disposal. The new unit, called Triage One, would be housed within the Seattle Fire Department’s Mobile Integrated Health program and tasked with responding to some crisis calls that don’t clearly involve a medical emergency or criminal activity.
Continue reading Public Safety Agencies Announce Plan for New 911 Triage Team