Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of an interdepartmental project team (IDT) to guide the development of a new Community Service Officer (CSO) program. The CSO program will be designed to ensure that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is better able to provide non-emergency services and support to Seattle’s communities.
“It is critical to the long-term success of our police department to build strong, lasting bonds between officers and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Murray. “The Seattle Police Department has worked for years to become a model of 21st century policing and the Community Service Officer program will help us reach the ultimate goal of building community trust with the department. With this in mind, the interdepartmental team will utilize the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit to inform the development of the program and to address the biggest divides that exist between the police and community. I am appreciative of Councilmember O’Brien’s efforts to secure funding for this important program.”
Existing CSO programs in the United States typically handle non-emergency incidents such as neighborhood disputes, investigations, and crime prevention which can ultimately increase efficiency within a police department and improve service to residents. Mayor Murray has long supported the renewal of the program to help neighborhoods work with SPD and to further the City’s commitment to constitutional and bias-free policing.
Mayor Murray’s directive tasks the IDT to develop recommendations for a new CSO program informed by the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit. These recommendations will address CSO qualifications, training curriculum, and operational functions with SPD.
The IDT will consist of representatives from the Mayor’s Office, SPD, Department of Neighborhoods, Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Human Services, City Budget Office, and the City Council. The IDT will be chaired by police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. The involvement of the Community Police Commission is contingent upon the Court’s indication of approval under the 2012 Consent Decree between the City of Seattle and Department of Justice. The IDT will develop the scope, budget, and action plan for the CSO program and will make its recommendations in early 2018.