After 10 years of fighting problem motels in Seattle neighborhoods, residents got help from an assistant city attorney assigned to the Seattle Police Department who brought 180 tax-evasion charges against the owners and forced them to sell. The federal grant money that funded the precinct-liaison program in 1995 dried up and city budget cutbacks shuttered the program last year, says the Seattle Times. Now the City Council has restored funding for four attorney liaisons in the city’s five police precincts to help solve public-safety issues and advise police about emerging problems around issues such as nightlife and medical marijuana.
City Attorney Pete Holmes is calling the retooled program Precinct Liaison 2.0, to reflect its broader focus, not just to provide legal advice to police but to serve as a resource to neighborhoods facing chronic problems such as drug and gang activity or nuisance properties. Holmes said the city liaisons, who will begin their jobs in mid-February, will work closely with other city departments to address community concerns, allowing police to concentrate on criminal activity. “A lot of people call 911 with problems that really aren’t law-enforcement issues. It might be feuding neighbors. It might be garbage that isn’t getting picked up. It might be streetlights that are burned out. These liaisons provide immediate relief to the police,” said Holmes.