Murray names interim fire chief

M_E_WalshWhile the search for a new Seattle Fire Chief continues, Mayor Ed Murray has named former Assistant Chief Michael E. Walsh as Interim Fire Chief. Chief Walsh will be filling the top position on a temporary basis, succeeding Fire Chief Gregory M. Dean who retired in December 2014 after 44 years of service to the City.

Chief Walsh brings over 30 years of fire service experience to the position. Before retiring in January 2014, Chief Walsh served as Assistant Chief of Operations. In this role, he supervised more than 900 firefighters and oversaw the Department’s nearly 85,000 annual emergency responses.

Chief Walsh began his career with the Seattle Fire Department in 1971 and rose through the ranks reaching the positions of Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Chief, Deputy Chief and finally Assistant Chief. In 2010, Chief Walsh was named Chief of the Year for his dedication and commitment to improving firefighter safety and service delivery to the residents of Seattle.

Chief Walsh’s first day will be Saturday, Dec. 20.

In October, after Chief Dean announced his intentions to retire, Mayor Ed Murray quickly began a nationwide search for a new Fire Chief. Currently the City is in the process of identifying and interviewing candidates for the permanent Fire Chief position.

Chief Walsh will serve as interim Chief until a new Fire Chief is hired in early 2015. He will be paid a salary of $200,000 on an annualized basis.

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

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.”

Murray and community leaders announce police accountability reforms

Police Accountability Reforms

Seattle Police Accountability & Civilian OversightStanding with City Council President Tim Burgess, Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole, police accountability experts and community leaders, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today announced a package of significant reforms to the City’s police discipline and accountability system.

“Our police accountability system has over the years become complicated and confusing to the public,” said Murray. “Today, we are announcing major reforms to bring greater fairness, independence and transparency to the police discipline and accountability system, and to rebuild public trust.”

Murray said that the proposed reforms would strengthen and streamline the accountability process while enhancing civilian oversight, including:

  • Making the Community Police Commission (CPC) the permanent civilian oversight body for police accountability in the City;
  • Consolidating the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) case file review function in the OPA Auditor, and incorporating other functions of the OPA Review Board into the CPC;
  • Strengthening the independence of the OPA; and
  • Implementing a large number of recommendations offered by CPC earlier this year to maximize transparency and public trust.

Of the 55 recommendations for reform offered by the CPC, almost two-thirds have either already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented, according to Murray.

Murray said his office will send legislation to the City Council for its consideration in early 2015, which is also when the City will be entering into labor negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild and the Seattle Police Management Association.

“I intend for the City to work with unions in the negotiation process to achieve substantial improvements of our accountability system,” said Murray. “Those discussions will use as a starting point many of the recommendations made by my special advisor Dr. Bernard Melekian, the OPA Auditor and the Community Police Commission.”

“A stronger and more transparent accountability system will support our officers and improve public safety in our city,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “But along with a systems change, the culture of accountability within the police department must also change. The women and men of the police department will thrive in a culture that properly rewards them for excellence and fairly holds them accountable when they can do better.”

“A good accountability system is one that is trusted by the public. The disciplinary review process should be straightforward, transparent, timely, and lead to better training for officers,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “I applaud the Mayor for committing resources to revamp the system and proposing these reform recommendations. The Public Safety Committee will go through a diligent review of the proposal to ensure this is the best police accountability system moving forward and is supported by the community.”

“The Seattle Police Department is committed to reform, accountability and using best practices in policing,” said Chief O’Toole. “We support these proposed changes as another step toward rebuilding public trust.”

Murray noted that the federal monitoring team characterized the reform recommendations as “excellent progress on implementing reform.”

The reform recommendations can be read in full here.

Press conference video

Mayor Murray applauds passage of I-594

Mayor Murray released the following statement on the passage of Initiative 594:

“Today, Washington has made a significant commitment to gun safety for all. States with universal background checks have fewer women killed in domestic violence situations, fewer law enforcement officers shot and fewer firearm suicides.

As the first state to pass this by popular vote, Washington has sent a message of hope to other states that progress is possible. We can act to prevent gun violence. We can save lives.

Our goal has never been about finding a single solution that will end gun violence once and for all. Instead, our goal has been to enact a sound system of commonsense rules that can, by working in concert, make an enormous difference.

This includes creating a more responsible culture around gun sales – which closing the background check loophole will help us achieve. It’s not the final answer to the challenge we face with gun violence. There are many more steps we can take and will take.

But there is no question that, today, Washington voted to create a safer environment in every community throughout this great state.”

Mayor Murray, Executive Constantine convene Firearm Violence Prevention Leadership Summit

Firearm Violence Prevention Summit

Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine today convened a leadership summit of 75 public health and safety experts to share data on injuries and death related to firearm use, and to develop data-driven strategies and actions that can prevent future firearm-related violence.

“Local jurisdictions must lead the way,” said Murray. “We’ve convened today’s summit to tackle firearm violence with the same data-driven decision-making we use to address other major challenges.”

“Gun violence is a public safety crisis, but it is also a public health crisis,” said Executive Constantine. “We can approach it as a preventable public health problem – and attack it through the kind of proven public health strategies that have reduced deaths from smoking, from auto accidents, and from sudden infant death syndrome. Today we are taking local action to confront this national epidemic.”

The long-planned Firearm Violence Prevention Leadership Summit stems from a February 2013 directive from Executive Constantine to Public Health – Seattle & King County, calling for development of innovative, data-driven local strategies for preventing gun violence in King County. In the time since the signing of that Executive Order, 255 firearm deaths have occurred in King County: 180 by suicide, 78 by homicide, and two by unintended means. The public health and safety experts at the summit include representatives from Public Health, law enforcement, the University of Washington, prosecutors, public defenders, hospitals, suicide prevention, and others.

Today’s meeting brings together agency leaders to create a common understanding of existing data on firearm violence in King County, so they can commit to data-driven strategies and actions. Among the data points presented at today’s summit:

  • More than 125 people each year die in King County as a result of firearm use, meaning more people in King County are killed by gun violence than by car crashes.
  • An estimated 26,500 households in King County store at least one firearm that is unlocked and loaded.
  • Fourteen percent of high school students in King County say it would be easy for them to get a handgun if they wanted.
  • From 1999 to 2012, 68 children were lost to gun violence in King County – two-thirds were murdered, and one-third died by their own hand because they could get hold of a firearm.

More related data can be found on Public Health’s website. Follow-up information will be  released Thursday with details on strategies and actions recommended at the end of the day by summit participants.

 

Unsheltered homelessness task force seeks immediate solutions

Mayor Murray today announced the members of his Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness. Murray has tasked the group, chaired by Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, with making recommendations by Dec. 15 to help the growing number of people who are living on the streets to find shelter during the coming winter.

“We remain very concerned about vulnerable people who don’t have a warm bed to sleep in at night,” said Kim. “We must review all the options for increasing the number of available beds before winter weather sets in. Exposure to the elements can be deadly, especially for those struggling with chronic health issues.”

The emergency task force’s membership reflects diverse perspectives from those who serve and advocate for homeless people, provide program funding, represent diverse communities of faith, neighborhoods, and businesses, as well as individuals who themselves have experienced homelessness.

Seattle makes an annual investment of around $9 million for 2,390 shelter beds, but the homeless population in Seattle continues to outpace space available in shelters.

During last January’s count of unsheltered homeless people, Seattle’s One Night Count, more than 2,300 individuals were found sleeping in cars or on the streets. Since 2010, the unsheltered homeless population in Seattle has increased by 30 percent.

The mayor has charged the group with advancing the conversation on how the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions in the region can work together, alongside private non-profit organizations and communities of faith, to reduce homelessness and serve the needs of homeless families and individuals.

The emergency task force will also review the City’s current policy on authorized homeless encampments. The review will include where encampments are located, how new sites for legal encampments are identified and how neighborhoods are consulted.

The emergency task force will hold its first meeting on Oct. 23rd in a private work session. Public meetings will be held Nov. 6 and Nov. 18 (locations to be announced later), followed by a private work session on Dec. 8.

Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness
Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, Chair
Lamar Campbell, Mockingbird Society Youth Network
Mary Ann DeVry, West Seattle Interfaith Network
Dee Dunbar, Friends of Lewis Park
Alison Eisinger, Seattle/King County Coalition On Homelessness
Anitra Freeman, SHARE/WHEEL
Kathy Gerard, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Melinda Giovengo, YouthCare
Bill Hallerman, Catholic Community Services
Tim Harris, Real Change
Rex Hohlbein, Facing Homelessness
Sharon Lee, Low Income Housing Institute
Louise Little, University District Partnership
Nicole Macri, Downtown Emergency Services Center
Pastor Robert Manaway, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Vince Matulionis, United Way
Katy Miller, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
Melanie Neufeld, Seattle Mennonite Church
Quynh Pham, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority
Mark Putnam, Committee to End Homelessness
Michael Ramos, Greater Church Council
Jon Scholes, Downtown Seattle Association
Leslie Smith, Pioneer Square Alliance
Trai Williams, Mockingbird Society Youth Network
Member of the Board of Parks Commissioners to be named later

Murray proposes 2015-16 budget

mayor before council budget speech

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 that brings more transparency, more innovation, better organization and better performance to City government.

Murray outlined several major reform proposals, beginning with key reforms to the City’s budgeting process itself.

“We will move toward a performance-based budgeting system and begin paying for outcomes,” said Murray in his budget address to Council. “This will lead to streamlining of services, better use of resources and greater performance from our departments. And, perhaps most importantly, it will drive better service for the people of Seattle.”

Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:

  • moving City departments to a standard accounting system;
  • conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures;
  • launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending;
  • developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability;
  • launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability; and
  • establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.

“We will use data – not tradition – to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.

Murray also proposed what he said will be ‘a major restructuring of how we as a City plan for our future.’

“We will look across departments to establish new best practices of coordinated planning,” said Murray, “so that as we plan, we plan together, and when we build new housing, we are also planning new jobs, parks and transportation to support them.”

And, Murray said he has tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.

“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets – and very likely there are more,” said Murray. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”

In his address to Council, Murray restated his priorities of a safe, affordable, vibrant and interconnected city for all. Highlights of Murray’s 2015-16 budget by priority area are available by clicking here.

Murray also said his budget shows how cities can be ‘an incubator of change’ and ‘a laboratory of democracy’ by funding ‘bold policy experimentation,’ including:

“These budget commitments demonstrate a City government flexible enough to reorganize around our priorities and support new policy that reflects the evolving needs of our communities,” Murray said.

As the centerpiece of his agenda for a more affordable city, Murray said that he would announce with Council the members, structure and timeframe for action of his Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on September 23 at 10:30 a.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2nd.

To learn more about Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015-16 budget please visit here.

Watch the speech:

Neighbors invited to Capitol Hill ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

Find It Fix It Community Walk

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to Seattle’s Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 17. This is the eighth walk hosted by the mayor in neighborhoods around the city.

At the events, community residents, police, and city officials walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it. As a result of these walks, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Public Utilities have worked – and continue to work – to make improvements in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Watch videos, view photos and read actions taken as a result of these walks at: http://murray.seattle.gov/finditfixit

Capitol Hill Find It, Fix It Community Walk:
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
E. Olive St. and 11th Ave.
Meet at Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse (Map)

6:30 – 6:45 p.m.

Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole and department representatives.

6:45 – 8:00 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East on E. Olive St.
  • South on 12th Ave.
  • West on E. Pike St.
  • North on Broadway
  • East on E. Howell St.

8:00 p.m.

Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/public-safety-strategy-for-seattle.