‘Back to basics:’ Seattle Mayor Harrell outlines plans for homelessness crisis, policing, potholes
SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in his State of the City speech that he plans to go back to the basics, focusing on housing families, fixing potholes, keeping parks and sidewalks safe, and enforcing criminal laws.
Harrell delivered his address at the start of the Seattle City Council Meeting on Tuesday.
The newly-elected mayor followed up on his inaugural address last month with an update on his priorities for the city, which centered around crime and homelessness.
Harrell said his administration did not inherit "clear departmental systems to adequately address the conditions of public safety or homelessness."
He said the city has six different departments tracking outreach and services for people experiencing homelessness.
"Some tracked the number of people, others the number of tents," he said. "While individual staff strived to work together, overall systems were not coordinated. This was unacceptable."
Harrell said his administration is developing a new interdepartmental team, the Unified Care Team (UCT), to "collect and provide streamlined data to the public, coordinate across departments with one voice, and ensure our plan and progress are clear for all."
Public safety was also a major topic. Harrell said it’s important to hire not just more police officers, but the right police officers.
The mayor vowed that this would be the administration that helps end the consent decree – federal oversight of the Seattle Police Department.
Earlier Tuesday, FOX 13 News learned that Mayor Bruce Harrell has been asked by the Seattle City Council to suggest a hiring bonus and retention bonus program for all frontline workers in all city departments, and have those suggestions done by March 1.
The mayor suspended the hiring bonus program for Seattle Police after the office realized the City Council’s $500,000 appropriation to pay for hiring bonuses in 2021 did not extend into 2022.
Officer staffing has been a contentious issue between the council and former Mayor Jenny Durkan. Two days before Mayor Durkan left office, she sent a letter to incoming Mayor Bruce Harrell saying he may want to issue a new executive order to pay for hiring bonuses in 2022. Harrell has yet to issue such an order.
Prior to Tuesday’s speech, Harrell hadn't made any major changes besides extending the eviction moratorium through the end of the month.
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RELATED: Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell to deliver his first State of the City address
READ MORE: City: No funds allotted for Seattle Police Department's hiring bonus promise
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