Harrell was first candidate to pledge cabinet level position to coordinate gun violence response and prevention, earning backing of community and faith leaders committed to violence reduction
SEATTLE – Bruce Harrell today issued the following statement in response to the weekend outbreak of gun deaths and injuries in Seattle:
“This weekend Seattle was shaken by a number of deadly shootings, part of a disturbing and unacceptable increase in gun violence throughout our city.
“Knowing that these incidents reflect an alarming national rise in gun violence is anything but comforting, and all the more reason why our next mayor must come in on Day One with a plan to improve safety and address the escalation in gun violence.
“As Mayor, I’ll do what is needed not just to prevent headline grabbing tragedies like we saw this weekend, but the quieter epidemic of suicide and heartbreaking rise in firearm domestic violence cases.
“Let’s be clear: none of these are ‘random’ acts of gun violence. In every case, an individual with malice, fear or hatred in their heart had access to a deadly weapon. To address the root causes of gun violence, we need to also address the ease and overabundance of guns in our city and society.
“Here is what we know works, and what I pledge to do as Mayor:
Establish a cabinet level position to coordinate action and intervention, from community outreach to law enforcement engagement, making sure we share data across jurisdictions, tracking guns and violent individuals, and leveraging state and federal resources.
Redouble effective community-led programs that have street-level knowledge and relationships to defuse potentially violent situations, identify potential trouble in advance, and isolate those who would bring guns and violence to our communities.
Improve police response and staffing, including patrol officers, specialists in de-escalation and crisis intervention, and community liaisons to create seamless – and trusted – law enforcement engagement.
Invest in proven technology to track gunshots and hold offenders accountable, including proven systems like Automatic Gunfire Locator Systems that I advocated for on City Council, and will implement as Mayor through a pilot project to measure effectiveness and ensure protection of rights.
Expand awareness and enforcement of Extreme Risk Protection Orders and other tools to remove guns from the homes of potentially violent people, including those in crisis or who pose a threat to their loved ones.
Fight at the state and federal levels for stronger gun laws, limiting both the number and types of weapons that can enter our city, how they are stored, and where they can be carried. We have to do what is needed to protect our families and peace of mind.
“One question I hear from voters is whether I will commit to hiring more officers to address both the gun violence epidemic and other urgent public safety concerns. The answer is ‘Yes.’ Seattle police staffing levels have dropped below national best practices for a city of our size, driven in no small part by a need for internal culture change – which I will see through – and a City Hall unwilling to move beyond soundbites when it comes to real police reform and rethinking.
“We will not defund our police, we will improve our police. We will hire officers committed to the priorities of our city, and who are representative of our diversity and values. Everyone deserves to feel safe and be safe in our city. We can hold people accountable and have bias free policing. That is not too much to ask in a progressive, innovative city. I will make it happen.
“I am committed to action, and will be a Mayor dedicated to safety and support for those impacted by gun violence.”