Body cameras, new uniforms coming to Seattle Police

SPD unveils new uniforms

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole outlined the department’s new pilot project on body-worn cameras, as well as unveiled the new uniforms officers will be wearing as they police Seattle streets.

“Body cameras have been a long-time coming and they are finally here,” said Murray. “This tool will improve community policing and support accountability for our officers. Above all, they will make our neighborhoods safer.”

“Body cameras will be a game changer, a progressive means to improve public safety, police accountability, transparency, and trust with the community,” said Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The department’s East Precinct will train 12 officers in the use of the body cameras. Field deployments will begin next week. The department will use the trials to decide between two technologies, as well as refine data retention and public disclosure processes.

The cameras will help document arrests and support convictions when crimes have been committed. They will not be used where reasonable people can assume a right to privacy — unless there’s suspicion a crime is being committed or when it’s material to a criminal investigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Community Police Commission provided significant input as the department developed the policy that will govern the use of the cameras.

Research has found that departments using such cameras have experienced a decline in assaults on officers. But they have also been shown to reduce the need for officers to use force.

Today, the department is also unveiling the new uniforms officers will wear on patrol, which includes a new patch and emblem for the department featuring Chief Seattle. This is the first full uniform update for patrol officers in 52 years.

“These new uniforms look very professional,” said Murray. “It’s been decades since the uniforms have been updated, so we’re overdue.”

Officers will begin wearing the new uniform in January, with department-wide implementation by March.

For more information: www.seattle.gov/police

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Murray statement on Seattle Housing Authority’s decision to put rent plan on hold

Mayor Murray released the following statement regarding Seattle Housing Authority’s recent decision about their “Stepping Forward” rent plan:

“I am pleased that Seattle Housing Authority has agreed to put its “Stepping Forward” proposal on hold in the face of significant outcry from the community. I shared my concerns with SHA last July. We must know more about how coordinated workforce development programs support rising incomes before we can expect families to be able to pay increased rent. I was particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact the SHA proposal would have on immigrants, refugees, families of color and female heads of household. Those with limited English proficiency are particularly vulnerable given the few options open to them in the workplace. The agency heard similar feedback repeatedly throughout the fall.

I strongly support SHA’s decision to move forward with a pilot program to improve access to employment support services. All workers want to earn a living wage to support their families. Skills training, language education and workforce development are critical if we want to give them the tools to lift their families out of poverty. As a city, we need to understand more about which strategies are most effective in supporting rising incomes.

I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot and anticipate a stronger collaboration with SHA to serve the many families who rely on the agency’s affordable housing.”

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Seattle awarded Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams grant

Mayor Murray announced today that Seattle is one of twelve U.S. cities selected to participate in the $45 million expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program. Seattle will use the $750,000 each year for three years to spur innovative policies on major challenges, including integrated neighborhood and transportation planning, housing affordability and homelessness.

“We have an opportunity in the next few years to create a long-term vision for the City of Seattle,” said Murray. “In today’s world, cities can be centers for innovation, unlike the gridlock that can happen at other levels of government. This grant will help accelerate our policymaking in the mayor’s office and city departments to an even higher gear.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “i-teams” program aims to improve the capacity of City Halls around the country to effectively design and implement new approaches that improve citizens’ lives – relying on data, open innovation, and strong project and performance management to help mayors address pressing urban challenges.

Innovation teams function as in-house innovation consultants, moving from one mayoral priority to the next. The i-team in Seattle’s Office of Policy and Innovation will help the mayor, agency leaders and city staff through a data-driven process to assess problems, generate responsive new interventions, develop partnerships and deliver measurable results.

In addition to Seattle, innovation team grants will also go to the cities of Albuquerque, NM; Boston, MA; Centennial, CO; Jersey City, NJ; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Mobile, AL; Minneapolis, MN; Peoria, IL; Rochester, NY; and Syracuse, NY. Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced that two non-U.S. cities will receive Innovation Team grants: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel.

In addition to the grants, cities receive robust implementation support and opportunities to exchange lessons learned and best practices with peers in other cities. Seattle’s i-teams will hit the ground running in the spring of 2015.

Previous i-team grants led to successes that reduced retail vacancies in Memphis, minimized unnecessary ambulance trips to the emergency room in Louisville, cut licensing time for new restaurants in Chicago, reduced homelessness in Atlanta, and reduced the murder rate in New Orleans.

For more information, visit www.bloomberg.org.

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Seattle invests $22 million in affordable housing

Seattle invests $22 million in affordable housing

Today, Mayor Murray announced $22 million for the development and preservation of affordable housing in Seattle. The long-term loans through the Office of Housing will support the City’s priorities of reducing homelessness, supporting transit-oriented development and providing options for families of all incomes to live in Seattle.

“Through our partnerships with the non-profit community, we are building a better reality for hundreds of families and individuals,” said Murray. “Today we’re taking another step to reduce homelessness that is a biting reality on our sidewalks and we’re making families’ dreams of affordable homes come true.”

The $22 million announced today will be loaned to housing developers to build and preserve rent- and income-restricted apartments affordable to our city’s low-income residents:

  • Mercy Othello Plaza: Mercy Housing’s project at the Othello light rail station will house 108 low-income families in a mix of units, including 62 two and three bedroom apartments. ($8.5 million in City funding)
  • 7th and Cherry: Plymouth Housing Group will provide 77 homes for chronically homeless individuals with on-site supportive services. ($7.3 million in City funding)
  • University Commons: Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) will build homes for 48 low-income and homeless neighbors, including 20 units designated for homeless young adults. ($3.2 million in City funding)
  • Lyon Building: DESC will provide much needed safety and health improvements to this historic building which currently houses 64 formerly homeless individuals. ($1.7 million in City funding)
  • Aloha Inn: Catholic Housing Services will make vital improvements to the building as well as critical health renovations to this transitional housing building, which has capacity for 66 homeless individuals. ($1.3 million in City funding)
University Commons

University Commons: Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) will build homes for 48 low-income and homeless neighbors, including 20 units designated for homeless young adults. The project is receiving $3.2 million in City funding.

“By creating 363 new homes, this investment will improve the lives of families, individuals and young adults across our City,” said Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark. “Today we celebrate these new homes, while we continue to work on additional tools and to plan for affordability.”

“In the 30 years since the passage of the first housing bond, the Office of Housing has invested more than $400 million in the creation and preservation of nearly 12,000 units of affordable housing,” stated Steve Walker, director of the Office of Housing. “The 363 apartments we are investing in today ensure affordability for at least 50 years. This is a huge win not just for today, but for future generations.”

The investments announced today come primarily from the Seattle Housing Levy ($14.4 million), with additional funds coming from payments to the City through the Incentive Zoning Program ($3.8 million) and federal and other City funds ($4.2 million). City funds for these projects are leveraged with state, federal and private investments to create the greatest impact possible.

“The City is not only a funder, but an amazing partner to ensure that nonprofit organizations like ours can continue to provide homes for our community’s most vulnerable populations,” stated Sharon Lee, executive director of LIHI. “Everyone deserves a stable and affordable home, and University Commons will now be a part of that vision. We are also thrilled to include new space for the University District Food Bank in our project.”

“We want to keep Seattle a place where families of all incomes can thrive, said Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest.  “Mercy Othello Plaza will provide affordable housing for more than 100 families, and the location near light rail provides great access to jobs and educational opportunities.”

“Few people in our community take housing for granted anymore, but for over 2,000 people in Seattle just having a roof over their head is a dream,” stated Paul Lambros, director of Plymouth Housing Group. “The new 7th and Cherry building will provide homes for 77 of your neighbors that have been chronically homeless, giving them the stability they deserve.”

The Seattle Office of Housing provides support to low-income residents in Seattle through rental housing preservation and production, home buyer assistance, free weatherization services and home repair loans. For more information: www.seattle.gov/housing.

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Seattle hires new SDOT Transit Division director

Today, Mayor Ed Murray, along with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly, announced the appointment of Paulo Nunes-Ueno as the new SDOT Transit Division director. Joining the department’s executive team, Nunes-Ueno will lead a newly created SDOT division focused on addressing the city’s and region’s current and future transit needs.

“It’s critically important that we deliver expanded transit services efficiently and cost-effectively after Seattle voters said yes to Proposition 1,” said Murray. “We’re stepping up to work with Metro to identify the routes and increased service that will roll out this summer. The new Transit Division will help ensure that we get the most from our investment.”

In this new position, Nunes-Ueno will lead a team of transportation professionals focused on delivering safe, efficient and cost-effective transit solutions for Seattle. This division will be responsible for four main areas:

  • Transit policy, planning and procurement
  • Transit design and construction oversight
  • Transit operations and interagency coordination
  • Mobility options and parking programs that support transit.

Nunes-Ueno will also provide subject matter expertise to SDOT leadership, the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and other City departments.

“Making transit better helps everyone who lives in, works in or visits Seattle,” said SDOT Director Kubly. “With the creation of a new Transit Division and the hiring of Paulo Nunes-Ueno, we will have the right team in place to guide our short- and long-term transit efforts. He is a strong hire due to his success at Children’s Hospital, where his transit and commute trip reduction work resulted in sixty percent of employees walking, biking or taking transit.”

Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT after having served as the director of Transportation and Sustainability for Seattle Children’s Hospital, and manager of King County Metro’s Commute Trip Reduction Services Project/Program. He will start at the City on December 17 and will receive annual salary of $144,500.

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White House names Seattle ‘Climate Action Champion’

Climate Action ChampionsToday the White House recognized Seattle as a Climate Action Champion, one of 16 local and tribal governments that demonstrated a strong and ongoing commitment to actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience.

“This is a tremendous honor that adds momentum to our innovations on climate action and community resilience,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We applaud President Obama for drawing attention to climate change and supporting local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Obama Administration launched the local community Climate Action Champions competition this fall as a compliment to his commitment to address climate change at the national and international scale. On the front lines of climate impacts and a proving ground for climate solutions, local communities have a powerful role to play in addressing climate change.

Seattle stands out as a national leader with a citywide goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, ambitious Climate Action Plan and Seattle City Light’s decade-long track record as a 100 percent carbon neutral electric utility.

The Climate Action Champion designation comes with targeted federal support in the form of technical assistance, preferred status in certain competitive federal grant programs, and opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer networking and showcase Seattle’s leadership on a national stage.

For more information: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/03/announcing-first-class-climate-action-champions.

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Mayor signs city budget

Mayor signs 2015 budget

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement when he signed the City of Seattle’s 2015-2016 budget today:

“I’m pleased to sign this city budget. While no budget can be perfect given our limited resources, this effort is the result of a collaborative process with the City Council. When I sent the council my budget, I knew they would make meaningful improvements to my proposal. I appreciate the thoughtful approach councilmembers have taken this year.

This budget makes a significant investment in public safety, providing funding for new officers to augment community policing efforts and a new aid car to respond to health emergencies.

We’re funding our new Office of Labor Standards that will protect workers and enforce our city’s progressive wage and benefit rules. And our new Priority Hire program will provide more opportunities for area residents to enter a career in the trades as they work on public construction projects.

Our transportation budget does more to focus on delivering more of what city residents expect: street paving, sidewalks and bike routes. Voters stepped up in November to invest in transit, and we will work with Metro to address overcrowding and delays on bus routes throughout the city.

I believe that the Seattle Preschool Program, implemented through our new Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning, will literally change the lives of hundreds and soon thousands of kids all across this city. We are working collaboratively with Seattle Public Schools and diverse community representatives to develop our implementation plan, which we will deliver to the council in February.

This budget makes compassionate investments in human services for victims of domestic violence, people living on our streets and those struggling with hunger. We will continue to look at how we can continue to address these immediate needs while finding pathways out of poverty, homelessness and violence.

Moving forward, we will continue to implement my vision for performance management of our city’s services. Seattle residents want to know that we are measuring outcomes, getting value for our investments and making data-driven decisions that improve our programs.

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Mayor issues statement on the Duwamish River cleanup

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement today on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Record of Decision on the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site:

This is a huge day for Seattle’s only river, and for the people of Seattle. EPA’s final decision gets us closer to a healthier Duwamish River for our neighborhoods and our environment. Seattle and our partners have already invested over $150 million to cleanup key polluted sites within the river. We look forward to reviewing EPA’s decision and working with them to get the cleanup done.

In order to have a clean river, we need a healthy system. The City will also continue to engage in other Duwamish watershed recovery efforts. In the years ahead, we will work with neighborhoods along the river on grassroots environment, health and recreation projects that are reconnecting the community to our natural heritage.

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Murray: City supports peaceful protests, has no tolerance for property damage

Mayor Ed Murray has released the following statement on ongoing planned protests in downtown Seattle:

“In Seattle in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury decision this past week, we have seen hundreds of peaceful protesters engage in free expression about the critical issue of race and social justice.

We have also seen what appears to be a familiar band of anarchists exploit these peaceful protests and use them as a platform to do damage and create an atmosphere of fear and chaos.

The City of Seattle stands ready to facilitate and support individuals who wish to peacefully express their first amendment rights. But we will not tolerate those who would exploit these peaceful protests in order to destroy property and incite violence.

Over the weekend, many families and young people visited downtown for a special holiday afternoon at Westlake Center – and nearly saw the planned festivities spoiled.

That cannot happen again, and Chief O’Toole and the Seattle Police Department will ensure that downtown remains safe during protests and during this holiday season.”

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