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Mayor Durkan Announces Expansion of Successful Health One Pilot, Additional Measures to Promote Public Safety

Seattle (Feb. 18, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced a series of actions to expand existing public safety programs and launch new preventative programs across our City. 

Last year, the City of Seattle launched Health One, which is staffed with a team of specially trained Seattle Fire Department (SFD) firefighters and civilian social workers, to help people with non-emergency 911 requests for issues like substance abuse, non-emergency medical issues, and a need to access services. Beginning this summer, the City will deploy an additional Health One unit to triage non-urgent medical requests and ensure members of the community get immediate access to health care and social services. Since its initial deployment in fall of 2019, Health One has served more than 275 individuals, 52 percent of whom were unsheltered often without access to other medical care.  

“Health One is literally saving lives. As our city grows, our ability to deliver emergency and non-emergency responses needs to keep up. Here in Seattle, we pioneered Medic One, which became the gold standard in emergency health response and now we are pioneering Health One for non-emergency cases,” said Mayor Durkan. “Thank you to the members of the Seattle Fire Department for all they do to serve our communities.” 

Building on community emphasis patrols and increased deployment in the West Precinct, the City is taking additional actions to address public safety in downtown and across our city including:   

  • Ongoing presence for the downtown mobile precinct, including a permanent parking spot at 3rd and Pine. Additional emphasis patrols and the mobile precinct have already led to significantly lower 911 call volumes;   
  • New SPD Mental Health Professionals in every precinct, including a focus downtown;  
  • New SPD operations to address trafficking of drugs, guns and stolen goods;  
  • Creation of a community response program to dispatch trained, trusted community members and former gang members to gang violence and deescalate situations, preventing gang retaliation, which can put many additional residents, including bystanders at risk; and 
  • Hiring of six new Community Service Officers and deployment of Community Service Officer program in every part of the City, which includes a focus on downtown.   

Working with dozens of downtown businesses and stakeholders, the City has asked all City departments to develop a coordinated strategic plan for lasting change to the way we deliver services downtown. This includes SPD’s presence, the physical environment and the way we engage those who live, work, or visit.  In addition, we know one of the best opportunities for a thriving downtown is a long-term strategy regarding many of the retail and storefront spaces. The City’s Office of Economic Development is working closely with Downtown Seattle Association and others to create a long-term plan for utilizing storefront spaces for both public and private uses.   

In addition, the City is continuing its investments in youth violence prevention. As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to engage in diversion strategies and youth violence prevention, the 2020 budget includes investments to expand the successful Pre-Filing Diversion Program through the Choose 180 program. With these investments, the program will serve an additional 100 individuals per year and double the number of workshops available for young people. The Pre-Filing Diversion Program is a partnership between the nonprofit Choose 180 and the Seattle City Attorney’s Office to divert young people (ages 18-24) away from criminal charges. Participants instead engage in a community-based workshop to help keep young people out of the criminal legal system by addressing larger underlying issues.  

Last year, Mayor Durkan convened a High Barrier Individuals Working Group who continue to meet to explore new strategies, systemic reforms or partnerships needed for a more focused approach to repeat offenders who are not receiving the appropriate interventions. Last year, the working group proposed new strategies to address the intersection of the homelessness crisis, criminal legal system, behavioral health, substance use disorder with a multi-disciplinary approach across jurisdictions.  

Its members will continue to work on strategies and have included: The Office of the Mayor; Office of the King County Executive, Seattle Police Department; Seattle City Attorney’s Office; the King County Prosecutor’s Office; Public Health Seattle-King County; the Seattle Municipal Court; the King County Superior Court; staff from the Seattle City Council, the King County Department of Public Defense, the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department; the King County Department of Community and Human Services, and representatives from Pioneer Human Services and the University of Washington.