City Justice: Not Swift Enough?
City Council passed legislation today that will take a dramatically different approach to battling crime in three areas most plagued by it: Downtown, Miller Park, and Rainier Beach. The idea is to shift the focus from arresting offenders to connecting them with services that can help keep them from lives in crime and, ultimately, jail.
If the pilot program works, it could influence policies city-wide, especially in drug enforcement, which contributes a huge (and expensive) share of King County inmates.
“This is the first time the council passed legislation linking law enforcement and human services to address the crime,” said Council President Nick Licata, in the press release issued after the bill’s passage. “It’s an innovative program that will help tackle the root causes of crime.”
But only if it has a chance to prove itself. Even before the ordinance passed Licata expressed concern about whether the program, slated for July 1 launch, will have had time to impress critics who favor the traditional lock ‘em up approach and City Hall colleagues who must decide in September whether to fund the program for next year. “We only have eight weeks,” says Licata. “What can we show?”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The program’s start was delayed by the number of players who wanted input: the mayor, council staff, police, social service providers, and community activists.