SEATTLE — A report published this week is recommending that half of Seattle’s police calls be handled by unarmed civilians rather than police officers. The report, which analyzed Seattle’s 911 calls, is a result of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan to reimagine policing. Durkan launched that plan last September.
The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform — which specializes in reducing incarceration and gun violence throughout the country — released its analysis of three years of dispatch data. The institute found, at some point in the future, an “alternative, non-sworn response” could be appropriate for up to 49% of Seattle Police Department calls, or about 685,000 dispatch responses between 2017 and 2019 according to the Seattle Times.
The institute found that 80% of SPD calls are noncriminal responses.
The recommendations include a four-tier response model where unarmed community members and SPD officers work both together and separately on responses, depending on the call.
The first tier includes calls that can most likely be handled by an unarmed community responder, like littering or noise complaints. The second and third tiers include calls that can be handled by both community responders and police dispatchers, with one group leading the response over the other, depending on the case. The fourth includes calls where police are the primary responders, like shots fired or assault.