Mayor’s statement on monitor’s findings on Force Review Board

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today issued the following statement after the Federal Monitor Merrick Bobb found the Seattle Police Department’s Force Review Board to be in initial compliance with the court-ordered agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice:

“The federal monitor recognizes a renewed culture of accountability at the Seattle Police Department. We continue to make strides forward thanks to the leadership of Chief O’Toole and the demonstrated commitment of our officers. With new training on de-escalation and use of force, our officers are better equipped to manage tense situations in the field. When an officer does resort to force, SPD has developed additional safeguards to ensure the department is asking the right questions about training, equipment and the individual officer’s decision making. We continue to make headway on my goal to make Seattle a model for urban policing in America.”

Murray condemns hate crime in Palm Springs

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today issued the following statement after George Zander, a leader in California’s LGBT community and native of Seattle, and his husband Chris were brutally assaulted in a hate crime in Palm Springs Sunday evening:

“Seattle strongly condemns this attack and the discrimination and intolerance that led to it. We have made significant progress as a society in so many ways, celebrating our diversity and committing to inclusion and acceptance.

“In our city and in Washington state, we adopted civil rights protections for the LGBT community. Across the nation, now we all enjoy the right to marry the person we love.

“But we have more work to do to change the hearts of those filled with hate. All of us have the responsibility to represent our commitment to equality in our words and in our actions. And we all must speak out against these crimes wherever they occur.

“Michael and I are close friends of George. As chair of the King County Democrats two decades ago and today as a leader in Equality California, George is a powerful voice for change and fairness. George and Chris will be in our thoughts and prayers during these long weeks ahead as they recover from this senseless act.”

Murray, Constantine, City Council declare emergency, announce new investments to respond to homelessness

homelessnessMayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine have declared emergencies, and joined by Seattle City Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw and John Okamoto, outlined new investments to respond to the growing crisis of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Seattle and King County.

This morning, Mayor Murray signed a Proclamation of Civil Emergency and Executive Constantine signed a Local Proclamation of Emergency in response to the growing crisis.

“Seattle is facing an emergency as a result of the growing crisis in homelessness,” said Mayor Murray. “The City is prepared to do more as the number of people in crisis continues to rise, but our federal and state partners must also do more. Cities cannot do this alone. Addressing homelessness must be a national priority with a federal response.”

Murray and Seattle City Councilmembers today outlined a $5.3 million package to respond to the growing demand for services. For more information, see details of the new City investments and Frequently Asked Questions.

“Emergency declarations are associated with natural disasters, but the persistent and growing phenomenon of homelessness – here and nationwide – is a human-made crisis just as devastating to thousands as a flood or fire,” said Executive Constantine. “We call on the federal and state governments to take action, including shouldering more responsibility for affordable housing, mental health treatment, and addiction services.”

Executive Constantine has proposed $2 million in investments, some of which are already pending before the King County Council, to address immediate human needs and the root causes of homelessness.

Last winter’s One Night Count found 3,772 men, women, and children without shelter in King County, including more than 2,800 in Seattle – a 21 percent increase over 2014. In 2015, 66 homeless people have died in King County, including 47 on the streets and in unpermitted encampments in Seattle. The state now reports that 35,000 people in King County become newly homeless at some point during the year.

The City of Seattle already invests more than $40 million annually to assist people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, including single adults, youth, families, domestic violence survivors, older adults, and veterans. King County invests $36 million a year to assist individuals and families at-risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Murray cited a decline in federal housing support and slim state budgets for mental health and substance abuse treatments as factors that have increased the burden on local governments. A decade ago, City resources represented less than 40 percent of the total funding for homelessness services. The City is now responsible for over 60 percent of homelessness investments.

Council President Burgess said he would move the legislation necessary to authorize the new resources through the Council quickly. “This is an example of the Mayor and Council working together toward effective solutions,” said Burgess. “We will continue to invest wisely on behalf of our neighbors in need.”

“We are stepping up today to fight the growing crisis of homelessness in our city and throughout the region,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “This package the City is introducing today will help us meet the immediate needs of many on our streets with additional outreach, services, and shelter. We are doing everything we can locally, but we need the support of our state and federal governments to fully address the emergency we are experiencing.”

“Emergency shelter is an immediate necessity, but these new investments in prevention are aimed at reducing the long-term problem of homelessness,” said Councilmember John Okamoto. “With additional flexible resources for those on the verge of homelessness and assistance for those ready to return to permanent housing, we can lift more families out of crisis.”

Seattle funds over 1,600 shelter beds that serve 13,000 individuals a year. Half of those who are served in shelters do not re-experience homelessness in Seattle. But with shelters at 90 percent occupancy, today the City announced a commitment for another 100 beds.

“Seattle, King County, and our suburban neighbors are responding to the growing crisis of homelessness together,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “When governments, human services providers, and faith institutions collaborate, we will add more housing and create more healthy places for people to sleep and be safe. When each person and family gets the housing and services they need, we will respectfully help them move up and on with their lives.”

There are 32,000 homeless children in Washington state, with nearly 3,000 homeless children currently attending Seattle Public Schools. On average, that’s more than 1 student per Seattle classroom. Bailey Gatzert Elementary, a school of 350 students, served 71 homeless students last school year.

“Families who are homeless deal with many complex obstacles; finding stable housing is only one of them,” said Greg Imel, principal at Bailey Gatzert. “Like all other families, they want a consistent educational environment for their children to learn and to thrive. We need to do more for our homeless children in the City of Seattle and in Seattle Schools. Homelessness has become an epidemic. And it is our moral imperative to address our children’s basic needs.”

The City is currently analyzing all homelessness investments and expanding data collection to ensure resources are targeted at the most effective strategies. Seattle is also launching a new effort to reduce administrative burden on agencies by allowing non-profit partners to provide a range of services under portfolio contracts, rather than separate contracts for each type of service.

“YWCA works to effect lasting change for women and families in our region through services and advocacy,” said Sue Sherbrooke of the YWCA. “Last year, our agency sheltered 2,200 individuals without homes and provided case management to 5,300 more. Yet more people every day face homelessness than our systems can possibly serve. This crisis will grow as our region grows, unless additional measures are taken at the state and federal level to address it.”

Those interested in joining the effort to respond to the homelessness crisis should visit and review All Home’s strategic plan.

Mayor unveils proposal to build more sidewalks in Seattle neighborhoods

Today Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tim Burgess unveiled a proposal that increases sidewalk construction throughout Seattle by utilizing more cost-effective designs and materials. Additionally, the City is proposing to develop new public-private partnerships to incentivize sidewalk construction.

“To be a truly walkable city, we need to provide safer pathways to schools, parks, transit and shops,” said Murray. “This innovative approach stretches our dollars to meet this need across Seattle by significantly reducing sidewalk construction costs. Everyone – from schoolkids to seniors – should have the opportunity to walk their neighborhoods safely.”

Using lower-cost materials, such as stamped and stained asphalt, sidewalk construction costs can be reduced dramatically. A traditional concrete sidewalk with curbs and storm sewers can cost $300,000 per block-face or more.

Over the next nine years, the Seattle Department of Transportation is planning to construct 250 blocks of new sidewalks – both lower-cost and traditional – for the same price as 150 blocks of concrete sidewalks. The plan is contingent on new revenue.

“A lack of sidewalks in neighborhoods across the city creates dangerous situations for those who live there, especially for children, individuals with disabilities and the elderly,” said Burgess. “Several months ago, I challenged SDOT to get more creative about sidewalk production and to figure out how we can do more with the resources we have. I’m pleased that they have come up with new, more cost effective solutions.”

SDOT will install new low-cost sidewalks at the following locations in 2016:

  • North Seattle:  At least seven blocks on 30th NE between NE 130th St. and NE 137th St.
  • Southwest Seattle:  Two blocks near Arbor Heights Elementary School
  • Broadview Neighborhood:  Partnering with Seattle Public Utilities on sidewalk improvements and storm water control elements
  • Southeast Seattle:  Two blocks (locations under evaluation)

The 2016 low-cost sidewalk improvements will cost $1.5 million funded through the Sidewalk Development and Safe Routes to School programs.

The City is also proposing new public-private partnerships to help expand its sidewalk network by:

  • Making it easier for homeowners and businesses to partner with SDOT to install new sidewalks, share development funds, or hire the department to repair privately maintained walkways.
  • Improving outreach and enforcement when private entities are responsible for repairing sidewalks.
  • Leveraging development underway in Seattle to incentivize building better pedestrian environments.
  • Providing more concept plans to ensure the right pedestrian environment for specific neighborhood conditions.
  • Updating SDOT’s tools for tracking sidewalk conditions.

“Through the low-cost sidewalk program SDOT can deliver three blocks of sidewalk at the cost of one traditional block,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “This innovative and cost effective approach will help address troublesome locations where our sidewalks end.”

As part of its Pedestrian Master Plan update and commitment to eliminate all traffic deaths through Vision Zero, SDOT has an online public survey seeking input on where to prioritize future construction of new sidewalks. The survey is open until the end of November.

City contributes $5,000 to tool library after robbery

Following the recent burglary of the NE Seattle Tool Library in Wedgwood, the City of Seattle has pledged $5,000 to help the organization rebuild its inventory. It is estimated that $10,000 in power tools was stolen sometime this past weekend.

“The Tool Library is a true asset to Seattle – a community resource, a place to learn new skills and a venue to connect with neighbors,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “I encourage residents and businesses to match the City’s commitment to get this organization back on its feet.”

The NE Seattle Tool Library is a volunteer-staffed, nonprofit organization providing community access to a wide variety of tools, training, and sustainable resources. The organization helps its neighbors regardless of income, while reducing consumption of tools through sharing, repair, and reuse. Community members can join the library to borrow tools and take classes to pursue such activities as backyard gardens, home energy improvements, food preservation and water harvesting. The Tool Library also hosts community events.

“The Tool Library encompasses so many people: our founders in Sustainable NE Seattle, our many volunteers and thousands of members in the community,” said Sarah Kautz, Tool Library coordinator. “This organization is truly a labor of love and cooperation, and we are so overwhelmed with gratitude in the wake of this incident. With the help of this gift from the City, we will be able to restock many of the shelves that took us almost three years to fill and continue lending these tools to the community.”

To donate, visit and click on yellow Donate icon. Those interested in donating tools can visit the website for a list of tools needed. For more information, call 206-524-6062 or email

The NE Seattle Tool Library started as a project of Sustainable NE Seattle in 2012 and opened its doors in January of 2013. It received a $25,000 Small and Simple Projects Fund award from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods later that year to help it grow its inventory, train volunteers, and establish regular hours. Most of its Steering Committee members were founding members of the Library and are still actively involved.

“There is a strong sense of community created by the NE Seattle Tool Library,” said Kathy Nyland, director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. “We believed in this project several years ago when we funded it through our Neighborhood Matching Fund program. We still believe in it, which is why this gesture is so supported. We want our projects to continue to succeed, and this donation will help on that front.”

Seattle announces Safe Routes to School action plan

Today Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and community partners unveiled Seattle’s inaugural Safe Routes to School Action Plan.

Safe Streets, Healthy Schools and Communities is a five-year action plan that guides investments for engineering improvements, education, encouragement, and enforcement around schools in Seattle. It is a first of its kind document for Seattle, developed by a coalition of public agencies, parents and safety advocates.

“With children now back in school, and as the fall rains come, drivers must do more to keep kids safe,” said Murray. “Seattle continues to invest in the sidewalks, crosswalks and speed cameras that improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding around schools. All children must have a safe walking route to their neighborhood school.”

Today’s announcement was made at Sacajawea Elementary School in north Seattle, one of 12 locations where SDOT completed Safe Routes to School projects in 2015, which include new sidewalks and crossing improvements.

The Mayor’s proposed 2016 budget allocates $5.8 million to support Safe Route to School projects at another 9 schools.

Over the past ten years, more elementary students have been walking and biking to school, growing from 15 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2015.

As part of the action plan announced today, every third, fourth and fifth grade Seattle public elementary school student will receive walking and biking safety education through their physical education class. A new partnership between SDOT, Seattle Public Schools and Cascade Bicycle Club will deliver that opportunity beginning next year. Today, only half of Seattle public elementary schools receive bike safety education, and no formal pedestrian safety education program exists.

“I’m excited to grow our partnership with SDOT and Cascade Bicycle Club to expand walking and biking safety education to more children through our physical education program,” said Superintendent Larry Nyland. “Making sure our students have safe and healthy ways to get to school will help them be poised to learn and contribute in the classroom.”

Safe Routes to School is funded by fines from the school speed zone camera program, state and federal grants, and the Bridging the Gap transportation levy, which expires this year. Seattle’s school zone speed camera program has generated $16 million for the Safe Routes to School program since 2012.

To protect more children walking and biking to and from school, SDOT and the Seattle Police Department recently installed school zone speed cameras near six additional schools, bringing the total number of Seattle school zones covered by cameras to 14.

Drivers are becoming more aware of new cameras. Over the last two years, the average number of traffic violations per camera per day has dropped 64 percent and average speeds in these zones have decreased by four percent.

“Nine out of ten drivers who get a school zone speeding ticket don’t get a second one,” noted SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “The cameras are protecting children and funding safety improvements near schools, resulting in safer streets for everyone.”

Safe Routes to School is a core component of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Download the full Safe Routes to School Action Plan at

For more information about Vision Zero, visit #VisionZeroSEA

Mayor, Police Chief Unveil Real Time Crime Center

Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole today unveiled the Seattle Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). The RTCC is a centralized data and logistics hub, partnering analysts and investigators with officers on the street to rapidly identify suspects and solve crimes, and disrupt emerging crime trends.

“The Seattle Police Department has taken data-driven and proactive policing to a whole new level with the Real Time Crime Center,” Mayor Ed Murray. “This high-tech hub will provide our officers with instant analysis of 911 data, trends and other critical information to help officers answer calls more efficiently and better protect our neighborhoods.”

The RTCC serves as the information center of the department’s Agile Policing strategy, which aims to streamline and enhance the department’s responsiveness in the field as crime unfolds using data-driven strategies and tactics. The RTCC incorporates information collected from 911 dispatch calls, SeaStat data, radio traffic, and vehicle information data.

“Agile Policing leverages the combined skills of career police officers and civilian crime analysts,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “With the Real Time Crime Center at the hub, this innovative, data-driven approach will enhance police service in all Seattle neighborhoods.

Analysts in the RTCC will monitor incoming data and will communicate spikes, trends, and anomalies in reported crimes to commanders who then can deploy resources proactively as situations develop.

Under the Agile Policy strategy, the department will consolidate the Criminal Intelligence Section, the Data Driven Policing Section and Crime Analysis detectives into the new Intelligence and Analysis Section. Teams from the Intelligence and Analysis Section will staff the RTCC.

The RTCC is funded through a combination of asset forfeitures and a Department of Justice grant of $411,000. A portion of that grant will fund a team of research scientists that will continue to refine best practices to improve the RTCC and proactive public safety in Seattle.

Seattle Police receive $600,000 federal grant for body cameras

Today, the United Stated Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded the Seattle Police Department (SPD) a $600,000 grant to implement an expanded body-worn camera program.

“Today’s announcement by the Justice Department is a huge boost to the Seattle Police Department’s efforts to improve community policing and strengthen accountability,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We know body cameras reduce the number of complaints against officers and reduce the use of force by police. I am proud of Seattle’s continued leadership as a national model for police reform.”

Earlier this year, SPD conducted its own six-month pilot of body-worn camera equipment and made some of the recorded footage available to the public on a YouTube channel. Seattle police also participated in the White House Police Data Initiative as part of an overall effort to enhance transparency and accountability in law enforcement.

In the coming months, the department will further develop the policies and protocols for the cameras with a broad range of community stakeholders, including Seattle Police Officers Guild, the Department of Justice, the federal monitor, the Community Police Commission and others.

“Body-worn video technology is incredibly important to our communities and our officers,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are grateful for this assistance from the Department of Justice, and are excited to continue our work enhancing transparency, accountability, and community trust.”

“I have said this from day one that body cameras are a game changer for police accountability, public safety, and as a training tool to improve policing performance,” said Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.  “Police accountability advocates such as Campaign Zero, Seattle legislative districts and community leaders have asked for body cameras and this is great news.  On behalf of the Council, I thank President Obama and his administration for allocating this funding.  We will work towards complete funding in the upcoming budget process. Without question, our work continues building stronger community ties but it starts with clear impartial video evidence of police and civilian interactions. Body camera data from other police departments have seen use of force reduced by 60 percent.”

In today’s round of grant announcements, DOJ awarded $23.2 million to 73 local and tribal agencies in 32 states to expand the use of body-worn cameras and explore their impact. The grants, which require a 50/50 in-kind or cash match, can be used to purchase equipment and require that applicants establish a strong implementation plan and a robust training policy before purchasing cameras. The long term costs associated with storing this information will be the financial responsibility of each local agency.

For additional information from the Department of Justice, visit:

Mayor’s Statement on Federal Consent Decree Status Hearing

Today Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after Judge James Robart held a status hearing to discuss how to develop comprehensive and internally consistent mechanisms related to the Seattle Police Department’s accountability systems:

“Judge Robart today laid out a framework for the City and the Department of Justice – the formal parties to the Federal Consent Decree – for us to move forward with police accountability and disciplinary reform. I’m pleased that the judge acknowledged the progress the City and the DOJ have made to date to fulfill the requirements of the consent decree.

“The judge made very clear today that accountability and discipline reform is a work in progress. He further stressed that criticism from some outside stakeholders suggesting that the Federal Court and the parties of the Consent Decree are not going far enough are premature.

“To successfully move forward on meaningful reform, the City and Seattle Police Department must meet the requirements as agreed upon in the settlement agreement. Ultimately, this means following the direction of the Court and the framework described by the judge during today’s hearing.

“The City has just recently submitted its’ further recommendations for accountability and disciplinary reforms to the Department of Justice and the Federal Monitor. We appreciate the collaborative relationship we’ve maintained with the monitoring team and the DOJ. We are eager to continue working with them within the framework laid out by the judge to move forward on reforms.

“The next step, as directed by Judge Robart, is to have the City and DOJ (jointly or separately) submit a formal statement regarding our proposed approach to reviewing the Police Department’s current accountability systems by September 30th. The City (including myself, Chief O’Toole, the City Attorney and the Council) will be working to meet this deadline so we can continue to hit the milestones and benchmarks as required by the Court.”

Statement on approval of firearms and ammunition tax

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Seattle City Council approved a new tax on firearms and ammunition sales to fund gun violence prevention efforts:

“The unanimous Council vote on this ordinance demonstrates the commitment of this City and this community to lead on the ongoing national epidemic of gun violence. While action at the federal level and in many other jurisdictions remains gridlocked, we are moving ahead to address an issue so damaging to the young people of Seattle, especially young people of color. Thanks, especially, to Councilmember Burgess for his advocacy for additional funding for gun violence research, prevention and education. Seattle’s youth deserve action and today’s Council vote is a meaningful step forward.”