Our city has not prioritized crime in recent years. Despite unacceptable rates of all crimes – property and violent, the City has failed to demonstrate the leadership needed to address this critical issue. As a result, our communities are suffering. None of us should accept this as the new normal. Resolving the problem and ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents requires our city government to re-prioritize addressing, prosecuting, and investigating street-level property crimes as well as violent crimes.
As your councilmember, I will:
- Increase staffing levels at the police department and commit to budgeting for officers and alternative responders at levels needed for a city of our size.
- Ensure law enforcement has resources to prevent, solve, and prosecute crimes.
- Invest in Therapeutic courts to address the root causes of crime.
Increase staffing levels appropriate for a city of our size while also committing to the Alternative Response Model.
Our police force is severely understaffed, with over 30 funded, but vacant, positions. We must fill these positions as soon as possible. Additionally, we must commit to hiring the correct number of officers for a city of our size. Several years ago Tacoma’s consultants recommended hiring many more officers than the City has budgeted for to better address crime. Crimes rates have only gotten worse since then. Nonetheless, the city has failed to implement those recommendations. We need leadership fill the current police vacancies and budget for the number of officers we truly need to better address the current unacceptable level of crime in our city.
It is also important to find a way to stand up an alternative force of mental health and social workers so that we can more effectively help those in crisis. The City has long discussed that program but has not yet made it operational. We must take decisive action to make it a reality.
Ensure law enforcement has resources to prevent, solve, and prosecute crimes.
Deterring crime (rather than arresting our way out of it) is my goal. But, to deter crime, there must be a belief that engaging in criminal behavior will result in swift and certain prosecution. Given our current low staffing levels, we must use our existing resources wisely and look for ways to leverage the staff we do have.
One way to do that is to focus on repeat offenders. We know that a small number of offenders commit a large portion of the crime. We must focus on those individuals immediately — both at the misdemeanor and felony crime levels.
Another way to work efficiently is to employ technology. I support investing in proven state-of-the-art technology to help our officers work efficiently and effectively. Speed cameras to address street racing and technologies that inform officers of the location of gunshots to help them get there quicker are smart ways to invest our tax dollars to make our city safer.
Finally, the proliferation of deadly drugs like fentanyl is a root cause fueling street-level crime and causing a tragic number of overdose deaths. To fight this deadly scourge, the city must enforce Washington’s new state law making public use and possession of these drugs a gross misdemeanor. Now is the time to send the message that our police force will enforce that law and our City attorney will prosecute it.
Invest in Therapeutic courts and mental health resources to address the root causes of crime.
We must also work to address root causes by investing in therapeutic courts. Illegal drug use is a growing crisis in our community, often impacting vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Recognizing the significance of the problem, we must invest in a robust therapeutic court system. This system will provide individuals with the help and support to overcome addiction issues through supervision, accountability, and treatment.
Addressing the mental health needs of at-risk populations is also of paramount importance. Our city must pass policies that empower mental health services to reach those in need. By dedicating resources to mental health services, we can provide support and care to help individuals navigate their challenges and prevent them from engaging in criminal activities.