An anonymous survey will ask residents to share their ideas on how to keep their community safe through methods beyond traditional policing and the criminal legal system. Feedback will inform pilot programs that launch in 2022.
Story King County is seeking ideas from residents of urban unincorporated areas of the county on how government can think differently about public safety. The survey—available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali—asks about residents’ experiences with 911 and emergency response. The survey will be open through Dec. 31. The Reimagining Public Safety initiative stems from King County’s 2020 declaration that racism is a public health crisis. Executive Constantine committed to investing in community wellness to combat the impacts of racism that have long been experienced by low income and BIPOC communities. “We must seize this opportunity to build a new and better approach to public safety, focusing on race and social equity, while investing in community wellness. This survey and collaboration with the community is at the core of that mission,” said Executive Constantine. “Together, we can create alternatives that are restorative, less traumatic, more equitable—and more successful, but only if all voices are included in the conversation.” Every department of King County government has committed to becoming more anti-racist and implementing a racially equitable response to the crisis, centering communities and co-creating new programs to achieve these goals. King County’s Executive Department will use the results of the survey to design and fund pilot programs that will support alternatives to a traditional police response when a community member needs help. “Everyone in the unincorporated parts of King County should have the opportunity for meaningful involvement in the decisions that affect their communities,” said John Taylor, Director of Local Services. “The lived experiences of our communities, particularly communities of color, are foundational in understanding how we should prioritize and strengthen investments in community wellness.” The anonymous survey will be distributed, and results collected, via in-person and virtual focus groups, community meetings, and social media platforms. After the survey closes on December 31, the County will review ideas and share back what they’ve heard before identifying the pilot programs to be funded.