Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityMayoral candidate Bruce Harrell outlines his public safety plan for Seattle | KOMO
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Mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell outlines his public safety plan for Seattle

Bruce Harrell speaks about his public safety plan during a news conference on Sept. 28, 2021.
Bruce Harrell speaks about his public safety plan during a news conference on Sept. 28, 2021.
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SEATTLE – Blocks away from where two people were killed during a summer shootout and where a man walking his dogs was left scarred after a knife attack, Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell on Tuesday laid out his vision of public safety.

“This is one of our oldest neighborhoods, and unfortunately we’ve seen a rise in crime,” said Harrell during an event at Occidental Square. “We all want to feel safe. This is a common denominator across all cultures. What we’re seeing in City Hall and throughout our city is completely unacceptable.”

Calling for “strong and decisive leadership,” Harrell said his administration would pursue several policy changes, including:

  • Working to change to change the culture at the Seattle Police Department;
  • Investing more in community-driven, violence prevention programs; and
  • Explore the use of unarmed first responders to help with mental health calls.

Harrell also talked about the rising rates of gun violence -- soaring nationally and in Seattle.

The candidate said he wants to see more done to mentor at-risk youth as well as implementing automatic gunfire detection systems across the city to pinpoint where shots fired calls are stemming from. Right now, the reports are tracked based on complaints and calls.

When asked by KOMO News how much it would cost to implement such a system, Harrell was unable to provide an exact figure.

He also spoke about recruiting and retaining diverse hires for police and the Seattle Fire Department, saying he wants to attract people from within the communities they would serve. He said a focus on de-escalation skills along with training to detect and address racial and implicit bias by city staff in those agencies was needed.

“So, right now, I think the numbers are completely unacceptable,” Harrell said when asked about the current staffing levels inside Seattle's police agency, but he did not mention specifically how many officers he would like added to the department.

During the news conference, Harrell was joined by members of IAFF Local 27, the union that represents the city's firefighters, who have endorsed him in the mayoral race.

“We need leadership that will listen and leadership that will act,” said Kenny Stuart. “Our city is going in the wrong direction. What has been tried is not working and we are confident that Bruce Harrell will fix this problem.”

KOMO News asked City Council President Lorena González, who is also running for mayor, for a response to Harrell's plan.

In a written statement, her campaign said: “Once again, Bruce Harrell has absolutely nothing to say about what he would do to hold police accountable. More of the same, is not how we improve public safety for everyone. That’s not surprising coming from a candidate who has taken $100,000 from Donald Trump’s largest donor in Washington State. It’s clear that Bruce’s loyalties lie with the corporations and Republicans funding his campaign, not the people of Seattle who want to see real change in our city’s approach to public safety.”

González has said in the past that she is adamant about improving public safety and police accountability.

“I worked to pass the first reduction of the SPD’s budget in Seattle’s history to reallocate resources to community-based, safety programs and participatory budgeting.”

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Like Harrell, she wants to see more unarmed responses to certain calls. What separates the two is that González wants to shift funds away from SPD to programs such as Health One mobile care units, the Crisis Response Team, and other “public-health models that rapidly address the health and crisis needs of those experiencing homelessness.”

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