On Wednesday it was announced by the ‘powers that be’ that the Seattle Police Department is beginning the process of reassigning 100 officers and supervisors to the 911 response team. The key – focus policing on community engagement. How? By ensuring that the SPD has personnel available to respond to emergency calls, solve problems, and work directly with the community to provide public safety. The measure is actually an about face from previous measures where specialty units were created at the cost of the fielding sustainable 911 response teams.
It is expected that shifting officers back to 911 response teams will help increase the police presence and capacity; patrol work and engagement builds trust, legitimacy, and lasting public safety, so says the police chief and Seattle mayor. Redistribution will ensure that the SPD is putting its resources back into patrol, and not in ‘bells and whistles’ specialty units that folks seem to be claiming are unnecessary and seemingly prejudice in application due to centuries of systemic racism. The shift will also has a positive consequence – it saves oodles of money by helping to reduce the overtime budget of the SPD because it won’t have to rely on overtime funded emphasis patrols. So here it is – the beginning of a newly imagined Seattle Police force! Time will tell how well the modifications effect positive changes in policing.
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