Mayor Jenny Durkan Testifies Before the State Legislature on Legislation That Builds on I-940

January 15, 2019 – Today in Olympia, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan testified before the Washington State Senate’s Law and Justice Committee in support of Senate Bill 5029, which builds on Initiative 940.

Mayor Durkan’s testimony as delivered follows:

The passage of Initiative 940 was a strong step forward for justice, for providing greater accountability, and for enhancing community trust in our police.

This companion bill builds on that important work. Community members, including those that have lost loved ones and police officers and members of this committee came together to craft a proposal that will further the course of justice, provide more accountability and recognize the critical, important and dangerous job that we ask our police to do every day in our communities.

As the United States Attorney in Western Washington, I saw that important work firsthand, day in, day out.

And I will follow Senator Frockt’s comments that it was just weeks after I was sworn in that Timothy Brenton was killed in Seattle and officers in Lakewood were fatally shot.

I’ve been to more funerals than I would want to, so it is very cognizant for me every day knowing how important and dangerous that job is.

I also saw, though, as U.S. Attorney how important community trust is, and how our criminal justice system is in deep needs of reforms.

We had a number of high-profile incidents in Seattle involving use of force. And as U.S. Attorney, just blocks from my office, John T. Williams, a native woodcarver, was killed.

Many in our community demanded that we do an investigation, which we did, and which led to the Consent Decree in Seattle.

I will tell you that many of the reforms that were imposed via that Consent Decree are very similar to those in 940. And without question, it has worked.
Our police officers have shown up every day and put in place new policies, new training, and new de-escalation techniques.

We just issued a report to the Court on how the intervention training is working in Seattle.

Our Seattle Police Officers in the last 18 months have made nearly 16,000 contacts that involved crisis intervention.

16,000.

And in less than two percent of any of those incidents was any force used at all, and the vast majority of it was what we call Type 1, the least use of force there is.
They also have referred more people to providers to get the help they need; our referrals from police are up over 100 percent.

This can be achieved throughout the state.

At the end of the day, it is good for the officers, good for the community, and good for community trust.

We are looking forward to our partnership with the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission.

We have already been in contact with Sue Rahr and others.

We know that reform is a continuous process of improvement; it is not a destination.

We know that we have to adapt to what police officers are seeing in their communities, and each of those communities differs on what it means. But if you have consistent training, statewide, you can accomplish more trust in police officers, which allows them to do their job better.

We know that we in Seattle will continue on all of the reforms. We have the federal Consent Decree pending, and we are in the last period of sustainment.
I want to close my remarks by commending this committee and all the legislators who worked on this, who came together with a coalition of police officers, community groups, tribes, LGBTQ, racial justice organizations – and I particularly would like to thank Andre Taylor from Not This Time who is working not just on this legislation, but in Seattle working with us to make sure that we implement things.

Representative Goodman also has done so much.

And of course, Chair Pedersen, thank you for support and work on this throughout, as well as Senator Frockt’s.

Thank you very much.