City Attorney’s Office Announces New Initiative to Address High Users of the Criminal Justice System

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(Credit: https://neighborsforann.com/)

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison announced the launch of a new High Utilizer initiative. The program will identify those responsible for repeat criminal activity in the city of Seattle and aims to significantly reduce their impact on public safety. To ensure these individuals have access to essential social safety programs, the City Attorney’s Office will prioritize high user cases and work in coordination with public safety partners and service providers.

“I am committed to rebuilding our City’s accountability system. Through our High Utilizer Initiative, we will speak directly to people who are creating a disproportionate impact on public safety in Seattle. I will coordinate closely with the Seattle Police Department, King County District Attorney’s Office and King County Jail to disrupt the crime cycle for these individuals,” City Attorney Ann Davison said. “Heavy users have slipped through the cracks of our social safety net and our criminal justice system and cannot be ignored. My office will prioritize these cases and continue to advocate for accountability and behavioral health and addictions interventions to help stop the cycle of addiction, crime and human suffering that we see in our streets.

The High Utilizer Initiative has identified 118 individuals responsible for more than 2,400 criminal cases over the past five years. Each of these individuals has been referred at least twelve times by the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to the City Attorney’s Office in the past 5 years and at least one case has been referred in the past 8 months. Most charges in cases referred to the City Attorney’s Office involving high users were theft (1,019 charges), trespassing (589 charges), assault (409 charges), or weapons violations ( 101 charges). (Some cases involve multiple charges). Because people with a high number of domestic violence or DUI cases are already receiving additional attention, they are not included in this initiative.

“The King County District Attorney’s Office is grateful for the partnership with Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison and her team, and we are confident that it will continue,” said King County District Attorney Dan Satterberg. “We know the community wants immediate action that holds prolific offenders accountable, and we will continue to go to court every day with a focus on preserving public safety and supporting victims. The challenge for the municipal court and for our community is to find resources to help address the root causes of behavioral health issues that lead a small number of people to frequent use of the court system.

“Seattle’s repeated criminal activity, much of which is perpetrated by relatively few individuals and often openly on the streets of our city, not only negatively impacts our struggling businesses, but also members of the community, neighbors, workers and anyone who visits Seattle,” Seattle said. Chief of Police Adrian Z. Diaz. “I’m confident that the High Utilizer initiative will not only add another layer of accountability, but also help identify those most in need of behavioral and health services.”

The goal of this initiative is to coordinate heavy user efforts between the City Attorney’s Office, SPD, King County Attorney’s Office, King County Jail, and service providers to improve outcomes for these individuals and to reduce their impact on safety in Seattle. The City Attorney’s Office will maintain the list of major users and coordinate among key stakeholders. The High Utilizer Initiative follows in part some similar recommendations made by the 2019 High Barrier Individuals Working Group (HBIWG), organized by Seattle and King County.

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