Reimagining Public Safety

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What's happening?

The Olympia City Council has heard from the community that we need to reduce inequities and bias to create a public safety system that works for everyone. In response, we are launching a community-led process to reimagine our public safety system, starting June 2021.

Reimagining Public Safety focuses on all elements of Olympia’s criminal justice system:

  • Policing
  • Corrections
  • Prosecution
  • Public Defense
  • Courts

A community-led process

The best plans for reimagining public safety will come from the community itself. A Work Group of ten to twelve community members who are dedicated to listening deeply and reflecting what they hear will lead the public engagement process.

  • Willing to deeply listen and engage in brave conversations
  • Curious with a desire to understand views and perspectives different from their own
  • Committed to co-learning and working collaboratively
  • Dedicated to upholding the authenticity and integrity of the process
  • Committed to supporting an outcome that reflects what was heard and learned from the community
  • Representative of marginalized communities and advocate for or have lived experience within Olympia's public safety system

To prepare, they will learn about Olympia’s current criminal justice system and seek out the voices and perspectives most important to include and elevate.

The Work Group starts work in early June. Stay tuned for introductions. To get emails about the process, sign up for the Media Releases & Public Notices E-news.

What have we learned so far?

The learning phase started with better understanding Olympia’s criminal justice system as it currently exists. We’ve learned about City policy, operations, and metrics and heard the experiences and ideas of local stakeholders. The information gathered will be a resource for the Community Work Group and the community conversations that they lead.

Presentations to Ad Hoc Committee on Public Safety

City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Public Safety is working with City staff and Council to build our knowledge of the current public safety system, understand what gets measured and how those measures get used.

Stakeholder interviews

Partners from the Athena Group interviewed 16 people with a wide range of personal experiences with and perspectives on Olympia’s criminal justice system.

What's next?

In June 2021, the Community Work Group will invite you to join a “Participatory Leadership” process: a series of community conversations and small group discussions to learn, share and discuss:

  • What public safety means for Olympians
  • Individuals’ lived experiences
  • Solutions for an anti-bias and equitable criminal justice system

At the end of the nine-month process, the Work Group will deliver their recommendations to the City Council for a public safety system that will best serve everyone in Olympia. City Council will use the Work Group’s recommendations to guide policy and budgeting decisions for 2022 and beyond.

Stay informed

Subscribe to our Media Releases & Public Notices E-news group to receive email updates about this project and other City news.

How we got here

Reimagining Public Safety builds on and is inspired by many earlier efforts:

With a focus on the Olympia Police Department, the Committee built new relationships with the community, especially marginalized community members, and welcomed their input on best practices. As a result, OPD adopted a new focus on community engagement and community policing.

Olympia’s Community Court opened to support diversions from traditional courts.

With the successful passing of the Public Safety Levy, OPD expanded and created several community-focused initiatives, including two peer navigator programs.

In July and August 2020, the City convened and hosted four virtual town halls on social justice. Hundreds of community members tuned in to hear from Black leaders, fifteen of the most influential professionals from Olympia and nearby communities.

Following the town halls, Olympia City Council approved a Participatory Leadership process to invest in community-driven solutions for reimagining public safety. The Reimagining process will expand the focus on policing to look at all elements of Olympia’s criminal justice system: Policing, Corrections, Prosecution, Public Defense and Courts.

Questions?

Contact Stacey Ray, Strategic Planning and Performance Manager, at 360.753.8046 or sray@ci.olympia.wa.us.