Community outreach

Funding from the Foundation provides overall support for the the creation and implementation of an a community policing strategy. It funds several projects that focus on outreach for youth and communities of color. The projects are designed to create positive interaction with a focus on educating the public on police practices and the police department learning about new cultures. The main projects are Youth Employment, Living Room Conversations, East African Community Workshops, and community event activities.

The department conducted a major undertaking by moving all community outreach and engagement efforts under the Micro Community Plan model. The department was actively engaged in attending a variety of events for and actively meeting with the various community advisory councils. SPD continued to be involved with community events by partnering with the Seattle Police Foundation and helping bring Explorers to SPF Precinct Picnics and other activities.

Projects:

Find It Fix It

This year, the department was engaged in the Mayor’s Find It Fix It Initiative – an app that uses smart phones to report selected issues around the city. South Park was designated as a site to be reviewed by community and city staff due to the high poverty rates. The community had a walkway that was identified by the community as the “Scary Trail”. Leveraging community engagement efforts, the department was able to gather a number of volunteers to clean up the area. This resulted in over 400 hours of service, transforming a weeded, overgrown area into a park-like setting.

Safe Place Initiative

This Safe Place Initiative, an LGBTQ  support project that calls on community members and business to make safe places for those who feel threatened or unsafe due to their sexual orientation, expanded this year. The initiative continues to reach hundreds of businesses and community member creating an important safety network. Other agencies have sought assistance to start a Safe Place in their own communities, including King County Sheriff's Office and the Olympia Police Department.

Youth Police Training

The Youth-Police Training is a one-half-day training designed for police academy recruits, field training officers, and youth.  The curriculum is specifically designed to address disproportionate minority contact (DMC) within the juvenile justice system.  There are four modules, which include facilitated discussions between youth and law enforcement officers.  one of the modules is to help police officers understand adolescent brain development. The officers and youth were given an opportunity to learn about each other and understand their commonalities. The department trained fourteen officers and 120 youth. This pilot phase focused on getting feedback from youth that will help make any needed adjustments to the curriculum.

Living Room Conversations

The Living Room Conversations has been one of the most instrumental projects in creating a dialogue with our neighborhoods at the grassroots level. In the last year, over 15 Living Room Conversations were conducted that reached over 176 people in our communities. The department had already funded two community research focus groups. In 2015, the department funded officer focus groups to see the effectiveness of the living room conversation. It has been an outstanding way for the community to get to know an officer working in their community while also creating a sense of community.

Results:

Realizing the Micro Community Policing Plans was a focused geographic-based policing model, the department understood the need to hear from youth. A true commitment to a community owned initiative recognizes the need to build a process to understand the youth and build a platform to implement recommendations that are important to the youth in each community. During this quarter, The Seattle Police Department utilizing the Micro Community Policing Plan (MCPP) model, employed 19 youth to develop a MCPP youth engagement strategy. Youth were hired as part of the Mayor Youth Opportunities job initiative.

The nineteen youth were broken into two work group assignments. Five youths, utilizing their bilingual reading and writing skills focused on providing translation of our community outreach documents. The fourteen other youth were divided among five precincts focusing on gathering input from other youths in the respective precincts.  The employed youth gathered information in a variety of ways from hosting focus groups to providing surveys. The information collected was built into a Youth MCPP.

During the course of the summer employment program, the youth had an opportunity to provide direct input on putting together a training that would bring youth and police together through dialogue, interaction and learning. This training is now being taught to post basic law enforcement training officers. This will help foster community policing efforts and improve youth police interactions over the long term.

After the completion of the summer program, the youth were given an opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Three elements of this program that made a significant impact on the Seattle Police Department’s Community Policing efforts and violence reduction initiative were:

  • Providing employment to youth of color and opportunities to youth living below the poverty line
  • Building a comprehensive youth strategy for each precinct that actively engages all patrol officers
  • Developing a training that will spread positive youth/police interaction among all officers