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Mayor Durkan Announces $2 Million Investment in King County Regional Peacekeepers Collective Focused on Addressing Gun Violence in King County Using a Public Health Approach

SEATTLE (July 22, 2021) – Building on recent investments to improve community-led safety and Citywide efforts to reimagine public safety, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the City of Seattle will invest $2 million in the King County Regional Peacekeepers Collective pilot program to address the steep rise in gun violence using a public health approach. The City’s investment builds capacity with increased staff and comprehensive support systems for young people at risk of gun violence and their families. 

“We know that violence is the result of many failed systems and societal disparities. And because, in many instances, the government for decades shirked responsibility, we are called on at this moment to invest in resources to right the wrongs created by those failed systems,” said Mayor Durkan. “There is no magic wand that will erase violence from the community; however, we know we need a range of solutions as with most complex regional issues. That’s why this investment in the Regional Peacekeepers Collective is so important. They offer a comprehensive and truly collaborative approach routed in and supported by community”

Mayor Durkan committed to working collaboratively across jurisdictions and directly with the community to address this public health crisis with the urgency it needs. King County recently announced $1.47 million to gun violence prevention strategies, including funding for additional staff to launch and support the Regional Peacekeepers Collective. 

“Tackling gun violence as the public health crisis we know it is requires using data-driven approaches, so we can identify individuals at the highest risk of gun violence and coordinate individualized wraparound resources,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I’m excited to have the City of Seattle partner in this work and look forward to their collaboration as we advance community-led solutions to ending gun violence.” 

By investing $2 million over a two-years, the Regional Peacekeepers Collective will have the necessary funding to add restorative services such as family support specialists, youth and family support services, comprehensive training, and technical assistance. These critical supports will allow the Regional Peacekeepers Collective to deliver the wraparound case management and family-centered engagement that can help disrupt the cycle of gun violence and put them on a path to health and wellbeing.   

“The City of Seattle’s investments in community-led safety efforts to help address the rise in gun violence is critically important,” said Fred Rivara, MD, professor of Pediatrics in the UW School of Medicine and director of the Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. “We know that gun violence is complicated.  There is no single solution, but together we can have an impact by addressing the many facets that contribute to this needless violence and its effects on all members of our community.” 

The Regional Peacekeeper Collective focuses on high-intensity engagement of young people most likely to become victims or perpetrators of gun violence. Young people are referred to the program by Harborview Medical Center, the King County Prosecutors Office, community-based outreach workers, and partner organizations. Approximately 200 young people and their families are expected to be supported over the next two years.  

The Regional Peacekeepers Collective is comprised of the following partners:

Alive and FreeProgress Pushers
Choose 180Renegades for Life Youth Outreach
Community PassagewaysHarborview Medical Center
Freedom Project 

“We are employing strategies focused on targeted, trauma-informed care, and interrupting cycles of violence can produce life-saving and cost-efficient results in a short period without contributing to mass incarceration. As we treat the disease of violence, we want to make sure these Violence Interrupters have the best tools, education and resources as we get the vaccine out into community,” said Derrick Wheeler-Smith, Director, Zero Youth Detention. 

“We are excited to see the Mayor supporting this regional effort to address gun violence. We are the boots on the ground dealing with the high levels of stress and trauma daily, so we get an energy boost when we see the recourses being directed to the cure of this pandemic of gun violence,” said Dominique Davis, CEO, Community Passageways. “This is an opportunity for us to serve the youth and young adults who are deeply involved in this pandemic of violence at a higher level. I see the regional approach moving us in the right direction to getting closer to solving these issues of violence That have been perpetuated by lack of resources.” 

Major US cities are experiencing an epidemic of violence. Homicide is up 42 percent across the nation and in Seattle, by August 2020, we had surpassed the number of homicides recorded throughout all of 2019. By the end of 2020, we recorded the highest number of homicides in 26 years.  

“Even with diminished resources, SPD officers have been exhaustively working each and every incident of gun violence. We put this level of work into these events – regardless of whether someone is hurt or killed – because every incident of gun violence is an assault against our community,” said Chief Adrian Diaz of the Seattle Police Department. “For months, our department has met regularly with local and federal law enforcement partners, and community, to discuss possible solutions. We have been conducting investigations during which we recovered over 50 guns in 19 different search warrants just a few weeks ago. We are on pace to recover another 1000 guns this year alone. We need to make sure these guns aren’t in the hands of people who want to harm our community. It’s true, we need to work together to fight this violence. We cannot accept this as a norm for Seattle.”