Social Workers To Be Moved Out Of Everett Police Department

September 27, 2020

Everett Government, Police Blotter

homelessness

The Safe Streets program dates back to 2015.

As proposed by Mayor Franklin in the City of Everett’s 2021 budget, social workers who had been part of the Everett Police Department are now being transferred out of the Police Department and over to the City’s Community Development Team. In 2015 as part of then Mayor Stephanson’s Safe Streets Plan social workers were embedded in the Police Department’s Community Outreach Enforcement Team (COET) staffed by a Sergeant and four dedicated officers. As part of the changes for 2021 a third social worker position will be added. We asked the Everett Police Department about the changes and received responses to our questions from Everett Police Public Information Officer Aaron Snell.

Q: What does this mean for the city’s COET unit?

A: The civilian social worker(s) will be moved under the Community Development Director (Julie Willie) but will continue working with COET on a daily basis. Aside from direct reporting, the overall community outreach concept remains the same.

Q: Will the current Sergeant and 4 patrol officers be reassigned?

A: There are no plans to reassign or reduce the number of officers in COET. The mission to work with those needing services and enforcing the law remains the same.

Q: Does this have to do with issues the department has had in getting applicants for the social worker position through the background check?

A: No.

Q: Currently there has been a vacancy in the social worker position and over the majority of the program since 2015 there has been a vacancy with one position unfilled. In 2017, that was most of the year. What is the current status?

A: We have continued working towards filling the vacant social worker position and the intent to have two positions filled remains. Additionally, the Mayor’s proposed budget includes plans to hire a third social worker, to help the unit provide better coverage on evenings and weekends.

Q: Has the embedded social worker program been successful and if so by what measure?

A: Yes, in 2019, COET interacted with almost 5,000 individuals of which almost 800 were new (first time COET met or worked with them). Of these interactions, over 2,000 people were assisted by service providers and 142 people were placed at the Diversion Center. The ability to connect people with appropriate services is critically important. We feel this program is progressive and innovative and continues to successfully provide services to those in need.

2019 COET Numbers:

The numbers for the COET Team in 2019. Click to enlarge.

Q: How does the new alignment away from the police department and toward community development team work?

A: This will be a seamless move with no changes seen externally. The mission and performance of the team will remain the same.

Q: Doesn’t this create a deeper divide between law enforcement and community services?

A: No, this does not.

The Everett City Council is currently reviewing the 2021 budget and will be holding public hearings in the coming weeks. By City Charter a bakanced budget must be approved by the end of the year.



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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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