November 15, 2022
Significant investments in programs to keep the community safe and improve access to justice were approved Tuesday by the King County Council as part of the 2023-2024 biennial budget.
“I have been working with South King County mayors to address the public safety challenges we are facing,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. "Everyone deserves to be safe and feel safe in our community. The county has made massive investments aimed at addressing the root causes of crime. These investments are critical, but they don't take away the need for police, courts, and jails. In this budget, we took steps to keep police on the streets, keep courts open, and ensure diversion programs are more accountable."
The budget includes:
- A requirement that South King County jail facilities be open for bookings so that local police can stay on the street in South King County instead of having to spend hours driving up to the Seattle jail;
- $22.4 million in funding to reduce the backlog in the King County court system by making a multi-million-dollar investment in judges, court staff, prosecutors, and public defenders.
- A requirement that diversion programs provide transparent data so that they can demonstrate their public safety outcomes.
- $21 million to improve community safety around transit stations and on buses and trains including funding for 140 Metro transit security officers and for programs that connect people in crisis on and near Metro stations with resources and services.
- Support for alternative response models in the King County Sheriff’s Office to allow for more appropriate and compassionate emergency mental health responses in some cases; and
- Five new staff positions - including four investigators and one community engagement specialist - in the King County civilian Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) to provide more robust oversight of the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am grateful for Councilmember Upthegrove’s continued work on behalf of South King County,” said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph. “The work he has done around public safety will make a meaningful difference to our residents. The investments in emergency mental health responders, transit safety, diversion programs and transparency as well as making sure our officers stay on the street and not spending their time in traffic to drive to Seattle, represent a comprehensive and balanced approach to keeping our communities safe.”
The King County Council on Tuesday approved a $16.2 billion budget to fund King County for the next two years. The 2023-2024 biennial budget includes funding for clean energy, affordable housing, public transit, protecting the environment, improving community safety, behavioral health and more.