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Mayor and Councilmembers Propose New Police Agreement Expanding Diversified Response, Increasing Park Ranger Responsibilities, and Improving Police Availability and Event Staffing 

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell, Council President Debora Juarez, and Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Alex Pedersen, Dan Strauss, and Andrew Lewis announced a proposal for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) regarding diversified response and special events. The MOU supports the City’s recently launched CARE Department Dual Dispatch Pilot, expands the geographic boundaries of the park ranger program, and strengthens special event staffing and overall police availability. 

“Safety is our highest responsibility, and we are committed to advancing needed new and commonsense solutions to support people in need, improve emergency response times, and ensure public spaces and special events are welcoming and secure,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This proposal recognizes the labor implications at hand and meets the collective bargaining requirements needed to put into action these improvements. As we continue to work toward a safer Seattle, robust diversified responses, and a fair contract for police officers, this agreement is a step in the right direction and a win-win for the people of Seattle and our officers.” 

In effect, the MOU would: 

  • Support the launch of the CARE Department’s Dual Dispatch Pilot and expand the City’s emergency response toolkit, allowing police and CARE responders to be dispatched and arrive at events at the same time, codifying the kinds of nonviolent calls responded to, and setting staffing parameters for future pilot expansion. The Dual Dispatch Pilot allows the City to deploy new teams specialized to help people in crisis, safely gather critical data to grow the program responsibly, and make an immediate impact freeing up critical and sometimes scarce police and fire resources. 
  • Enable Park Rangers to serve in all parks across the city and increase park safety, rescinding a prior contractual geographic limitation of Park Rangers only to Downtown parks. Under Mayor Harrell and the City Council’s Park District renewal, the park ranger program was significantly expanded, with the goal of hiring 26 park rangers this year, to provide safety, activation, and support for Seattle park-goers. 
  • Improve citywide officer availability and strengthen staffing at special events through a new special events staffing system that provides officers who volunteer to staff special events with a $225 flat premium per shift while allowing any unfilled positions to be staffed by employees that are not police officers such as parking enforcement officers. The Seattle Police Department’s current approach for filling vacant positions at special events relies on an officer draft system, impacting officer morale, department planning, and citywide staffing. This new system will apply to tier 1, 2, and 3 special events, which range from the Torchlight Parade and professional sports games to smaller community-based celebrations. 

Council President Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle): “This proposal is a concrete step forward for our efforts to bolster public safety in Seattle and represents a partnership between City leaders and labor representatives towards our shared goal to keep communities safe. By supporting the mission of the new CARE Department and allowing Park Rangers to expand their boundaries to all parks, the agreement will help alleviate the strain on police resources and ensure people in need receive appropriate assistance in an emergency. I want to thank Mayor Harrell for his commitment to building collaborative solutions to our city’s most pressing challenges.”   

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park): “This agreement allows Seattle to start making commonsense improvements to our community safety network of response, specifically broadening civilian response. This agreement allows the CARE dual dispatch response team more flexibility to respond to people in mental health crisis, as well as citywide operation of the Park Rangers, which are currently limited to central neighborhoods. It also enhances flexibility to use civilians for special events when a sworn officer is not required, easing the burden on sworn officers. While the next Council will have much more work to do to meet our community’s demand for a diversified system of policing alternatives, this agreement serves as a solid foundation for them to build on.”   

Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4, Northeast Seattle): “Surveys have shown that public safety remains a top concern for Seattle residents, and as policymakers we must use every tool available to foster safety and ensure swift emergency responses in our communities. This proposal will improve officer availability, advancing the goal of relieving the stress on police officers who have had to respond to an increasing number of behavioral health calls. I am supportive of this agreement and applaud Mayor Harrell and several colleagues for prioritizing the urgent safety needs of our city.” 

Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6, Northwest Seattle): “This agreement is a great example of how we’re working collaboratively with our police officers to create a more effective and efficient public safety system. It will allow us to move forward on alternative approaches to non-criminal calls and focus police time on crime so that officers can respond faster to the calls that only they can respond to. I’m committed to charting a new path that leverages all approaches – sworn and civilian – to help keep us safe.” 

Councilmember Andrew Lewis (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia): “This agreement is a big step forward for comprehensive community safety. Park rangers, mental health responders, and civilian traffic enforcement are critical services. This agreement helps deploy those professionals for maximum effectiveness.”