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City Council Priority: Community Safety

Tacoma’s Ongoing Commitment to Improving Community Safety

The members of the Tacoma City Council and staff with the City Manager’s Office are committed to creating a more transparent, accountable, responsive model of public safety that reflects and aligns with our community. While police reform is a major component of overall community safety and a top priority for action, City leaders are pursuing a broad spectrum of initiatives and policies aimed at improving safety for all residents across all neighborhoods, cultivating stronger community connections and neighborhood improvements that prevent crime, and trust in local systems and the people affected by them

   

Resolution 40622 was passed by the City Council on June 30, 2020. It affirms the City of Tacoma’s commitment to improving existing systems for all community members, with the first stated priority being local policing.

  

The Tacoma Police Department has developed a 12 Point Accountability and Transparency Improvement Plan  in response to City Council initiatives and directives on community safety, with a vast majority of the 12-point plan either completed or with substantial progress made as of January 2024.

Council Initiatives and Directives Since 2020:

 

Police Reform

Resolution 40622 was passed by the Tacoma City Council on June 30, 2020, laying the foundation to transform the City of Tacoma into an anti-racist organization. 

 

The historic and present-day impacts government has created and perpetrated on communities of color for more than 400 years in the United States, and beyond, must be addressed through a commitment to anti-racist policies, practices and service delivery. We recognize that racism has been and will continue to be embedded in the institutions and structures unless we are explicit that any policy is considered racist unless it is anti-racist. 

 

Tacoma Police Department Identifying and Undoing Institutional and Structural Racism

While institutional and structural racism is in every system throughout our City, State and Nation, we can and will transform, starting with a comprehensive examination of the Tacoma Police Department. TPD engaged 21st Century Policing Solutions to create recommendations on how TPD can lead 21st Century Policing in Anti-Racism. The 21st Century Policing Report, issued in March 2021, includes 69 recommendations spanning all aspects of policing and the department structure 

 

Role of CPAC in Continuing Reform

The Community’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) is a policy-focused committee that will help to ensure transparency and accountability in the way that the City of Tacoma Police Department operates. The Committee also provides community outreach and education through public hearings and committee efforts. It also is responsible for reviewing police policy at the request of the City Council or City Manager, receiving and reviewing policy complaints by members of the public, and providing advice to the City Council, the City Manager and the Chief of Police on policy matters. To submit written public comment please email cpac@cityoftacoma.org.

 

Alternative Response

The City of Tacoma remains committed to implementing alternative response changes and enhancements aligned with the 2021 Matrix Study to the extent they are feasible and subject to collective bargaining. Our alternative response efforts are focused on three areas: Homelessness Outreach, Behavioral Health Response, and unarmed Community Service Officers. 

  • Homelessness Outreach
    The 2023-2024 biennial budget supported expanding the Homeless Engagement Alternatives Liaison (HEAL) staffing, allowing teams to conduct more outreach without police. Learn more about the City’s efforts to address homelessness.

  • Behavioral Health Response Team
    In 2023, the City of Tacoma Fire Department (TFD) established a new behavioral health response team to support community members experiencing behavioral health crisis. This team is designed to effectively engage with people impacted by behavioral health, mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders. Known as the HOPE Team – which stands for Holistic Outreach Promoting Engagement – this service will be 911 dispatched and work in coordination with community providers, hospitals, jails, courts, and first responders. The team is now in a "phased launch" testing their vehicles and equipment by accompanying TFD, and TPD on calls.
  • Community Service Officers
    The City is actively working to implement new unarmed Community Service Officers within the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) to respond to a wide range of non-violent, non-emergency, and low-risk calls. This team is centered around providing a holistic approach to community safety that decreases both priority and non-priority call response times and enhances the police department’s responsiveness to community needs. This work includes hiring, creating curriculum, training, finalizing protocols, and acquiring/outfitting response vehicles. There is a goal to complete hiring by the new year, with services beginning to roll out in Spring 2024.  

You can find more information on our efforts to date below:

Does the City of Tacoma have an Office of Community Safety?

 

Does the City of Tacoma have an Office of Community Safety? 

The short answer is no.

 

In alignment with Resolution No. 40622, start-up funding for an Office of Community Safety was included as a placeholder in the City’s 2021-2022 Budget. This funding was intended to allow the City to be responsive to a broader definition of community safety and support the implementation of community-identified transformational initiatives. The City has actively taken on transformation, including many of the recommendations within the 21st Century Policing Report, without establishing a new office.

 

Going forward, the creation of a Community Safety Action Strategy is now underway. The community will be invited to provide their feedback and insights as part of the planning process. Once completed, this will strategically guide the City’s work in this important area, and the City Manager will determine what staffing, structures, and resources are necessary to support the Community Safety Action Strategy. 

 

The Office of Community Safety remains a viable option to be activated as needed in response to the community and city administrative needs as we continue to advance transformational efforts within the City of Tacoma.

 

Police Body and Dash Cameras

Benefits of Police Cameras

Police Body Cams and Dash Cams have been shown to provide several benefits, including:

  •  Improve accountability
  • Improve evidentiary outcomes
  • Enhance the safety of, and improve interactions between, officers and the community

Our Program Will Be Responsive and Transparent

We have been researching and reviewing policies, practices and technologies to ensure that Tacoma’s system for Body Cams and Dash Cams is responsive and transparent. Our program includes policies that address:

  •  Washington State Legislative requirements
  • Requirement to wear BWC
  • When to activate camera
  •  When officers can review BWC footage (i.e. before writing a report)
  • When and how to download recordings
  • Who has access to recording after download
  •  When supervisors can or should review footage (i.e. complaints)
  • Unauthorized use
  • Public disclosure and redaction process
  • How to protect crime victim and specifically domestic violence victims' rights

8 Can't Wait Campaign

Campaign Zero's 'Eight Can't Wait' national campaign serves as a guide for reforming local policing policies so they reinforce the prioritization of de-escalation training and anti-racism in community policing. 

 

'Eight Can't Wait' Recommendations

  1.  Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
  2.  Require de-escalation
  3.  Require warning before shooting
  4.  Exhaust all other means before shooting
  5.  Duty to intervene
  6.  Ban shooting at moving vehicles
  7.  Require use of force continuum
  8.  Require comprehensive reporting

TPD’s Use of Force Policy: Updated in November 2022, TPD revised its Use of Force Policy which now requires officers to intervene when they observe excessive use of force by another officer, bans chokeholds, requires de-escalation, bans shooting at moving vehicles, requires warning before shots are fired, and more. Additionally, it expands the training required beyond what the attorney general suggested and state law mandates.

  

The 2020 Mayor’s Pledge – Obama Foundation & My Brother’s Keeper Alliance

On July 21, 2020, Mayor Victoria Woodards joined other mayors across the nation in signing on to the four-part pledge developed by the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, an Initiative of the Obama Foundation, to engage our community in reviewing Tacoma’s use of force policies. 
 
The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance calls on mayors to commit to the following actions: 

  • Review your police use-of-force policies.
  •  Engage your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your review.
  •  Report the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
  •  Reform your community’s police use-of-force policies.

Status Report – January 2024: While the primary objectives of the Obama Pledge have been achieved over the last four years, the Community’s Police Advisory has committed to continuing a comprehensive review of all relevant policies. This work will incorporate recommendations from the 21st Century Policing Report, as well as overall direction and feedback from community stakeholders, and alignment with recent changes to state and city laws  

 

To learn more about this initiative, visit obama.org/mayor-pledge. 

Priority: Increase positive public perception of safety and overall quality of lifeWhat makes us feel safe? Many things contribute to our perception of safety such as clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, the walkability (including crosswalks and traffic design) and conditions in our neighborhoods, the lighting on streets, property crime, social connections with our neighbors, quality opportunities for children, and much more. Unsafe community conditions can also dampen economic development and discourage business retention, attraction, and expansion

 
Transforming the Tacoma Police Department

We have created a web map to visualize the laws, ordinances, regulations, policies, initiatives and projects that Tacoma Police Department are using to drive transformation.

 

Click on the Transforming the Tacoma Police Department image below to learn more.

      Transforming Tacoma Police

 



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