Constantine at State of the County: ‘We are not only embracing change. We are leading it’

The county executive announced a series of changes and reforms to increase services and make regional government work better.

From a King County press release:

King County Executive Dow Constantine on Monday presented his ninth State of the County address, highlighting regional changes and announcing a series of changes to transportation, criminal justice, human services and environmental protection.

“When we welcome new people, and embrace new ideas – change opens up new opportunities,” said Executive Constantine. “When we finds ways to accommodate growth without sacrificing what makes this place so special – change challenges us to build stronger communities. When regional government innovates, improves the quality of life of our residents, and ensures every person has the opportunity to fulfill their potential – change can lift us to new heights.”

Innovations in mobility

Metro, which will become a standalone county department, is reorganizing several of its services and planning functions to lead a new mobility strategy around integrating traditional public transit with new travel options such as dynamic carpooling and vanpooling, employer shuttles, and on-demand first- and last-mile services.

Executive Constantine will convene a Mobility Roundtable this summer as Metro explores new ways to move people by forming partnerships between government, business and labor.

“Metro is creating innovative ways to use transit and building on our history as a leader in developing mobility solutions,” General Manager Rob Gannon said. “We’re providing a network of options by complementing bus service with new technologies and mobility services to meet the pressing needs of our region. Frequent and high-capacity transit will always be the backbone of Metro service, but moving people and connecting communities is at the heart of what we do, and we need to do it even better.”

Metro also is launching an Innovative Mobility Program that will coordinate several pilot projects in 2018 that explore partnerships with private-sector services such as carpooling apps and transportation network companies. These projects will build on commuter services Metro currently offers such as vanpool, rideshare and community vans.

Mobility pilot projects include:

On-demand ride services to park-and-rides: A partnership with a mobility service to provide an app-based on-demand shuttle service for people connecting to transit at several overcrowded park-and-rides. Many of Metro’s 130 park-and-ride lots are full by 8 a.m. due to increasing demand.

First- and last-mile connections to transit: Metro and Sound Transit were awarded a federal grant to develop a program that works with transportation network companies to get people to major bus stops with the payment of a standard transit fare.

Dynamic vanpool and carpool: Metro is looking to build on its own rideshare program, TripPool, by working with private carpooling apps to make it easier to share the ride.

Shared employer shuttles: Metro seeks proposals for a pilot in which groups of employers could offer their own shared commuter shuttle services for employees to complement public transit and fill gaps in service.

Community Connections: Metro will continue this program that works closely with local governments, community groups and businesses to provide a suite of transportation services that fit their needs.

Metro also will explore data-sharing agreements with private-sector partners to better inform transportation planning.

Building on a history of transparency for inquests into fatal shootings

After holding a series of public focus groups and meetings, the six-person King County Inquest Process Review Committee submitted its final report to Executive Dow Constantine. Executive Constantine now seeks public input as he reviews the recommendations to determine potential changes to the inquest system for fatal shootings by law enforcementofficers.

Tasked with reviewing the current inquest system and recommending potential actions, the Inquest Process Review Committee submitted a series of ideas, including

Substantially limiting the role of the courts and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. An inquest does not legally establish criminal or civil liability, and the participation of the court and prosecutor in the fact-finding proceeding has led to confusion. The Committee recommends limiting the role of the court to supplying a jury and facilities. The prosecuting attorney should have no role in presenting evidence during the inquest hearing.

Improving public access to inquest hearings by publicizing schedules, and recording and live-streaming the proceedings.

Clarifying purpose and scope of the inquest, which is to ensure a full, fair and transparent review of the facts and circumstances surrounding a death, not to determine whether law enforcement acted in good faith or to otherwise find fault, or to determine civil or criminal liability. However, the inquest is the appropriate forum for the community – through the jury – to consider issues and express its views on the important question of how deaths in similar circumstances may be prevented

Executive Constantine will review the report and seek public comment before issuing any potential order changing public fact-finding investigations of officer-involved killings.

“No other jurisdiction in the nation does what we do. We must build on that history of transparency, on those decades of experience,” said Executive Constantine.

“Families need to know the facts. Law enforcement needs to know the facts. The community needs to know the facts. I will craft a new directive on inquests that provides the greatest opportunity to understand what happened in these tragic circumstances, and help ensure future inquests – and the incidents that make them necessary – are as rare as we can possibly make them.”

Applying a public health approach to juvenile services

After consulting with community stakeholders and staff from the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention as well as Public Health – Seattle & King County, Executive Constantine announced that all programming at the Youth Services Center will be overseen by Public Health.

Examples of a public health approach at the Youth Services Center include:

Developing a restorative justice system rather than traditional control techniques;

Developing culturally responsive, multi-disciplinary programming for youth that develops their ability to recognize and regulate trauma responses and addresses their individual needs;

Additional staff training and skills building to develop tools for individual action plans.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure young people who have been hurt, have the chance to heal – and those who may have stumbled are able to catch their step, regain their balance, and find their stride,” said Executive Constantine.

Executive Constantine also is expanding restorative practices such as peacemaking and healing circles and mediation.