Ensuring the Safety and Respect of Black People

The City strives to create a Kirkland where Black people feel safe and respected and interpersonal, institutional and structural racism no longer exists. On August 4, 2020 the City passed legislation (R-5434) committing to several actions related to examining and dismantling institutional and structural racism in Kirkland.

These actions come with significant funding over the next two years, and we need your input to advise us on how best to use this funding and how to reimagine Kirkland. Your feedback on this work will have a direct influence on various City and Police Department culture, policies, programs, and practices. This work is intended to ensure the safety and respect of Black people in Kirkland.

Update (10/27/21) - the City has published a draft Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 5-Year Roadmap(PDF, 352KB)  for community review.  This plan is anticipated to be adopted by Council sometime in early 2022. 

Give Feedback Now

Community Engagement

The City began engaging the community alongside the drafting of R-5434 in June.  R-5434 called for a further outreach and engagement process centered around Black people and their lived experiences. As a result, City staff and consultants met with formal and informal Black-led community groups, Black community leaders, Black youth, and other Black community members to help inform our approach to this work.  Additionally, we also sought intentional engagement with Indigenous people and other people of color, with a focus on including intersectional voices.  Finally, we engaged the wider community to identify and implement solutions to interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism in Kirkland.    

Historical Background


R-5434 Funding Commitments

The City has committed significant funding to support many actions aimed at dismantling structural racism. Some of actions started immediately as part of the Early Action Initiative, and will continue as part of the 2021 Community Safety Initiative.

Early Action Initiative

Early Action Initiative

This initiative consists of a variety of actions that are beginning in Fall 2020:

  • Developing a Police “use of force” public dashboard to display the Kirkland Police Department’s baseline data on use of force, such as: total incidents, total use of force incidents, type of force used and the reason, subject race/gender, and officer race/gender.
  • Evaluating enhancements to the existing police dashboard that help guard against bias in police action. The Kirkland Police Department has an existing dashboard that is presented to the City Council quarterly. The current dashboard reviews various crimes, including: murder, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary (residential and commercial), motor vehicle theft and prowl, DUI, and collisions. This dashboard will be evaluated to incorporate updates consistent with the intent of Resolution R-5434.
  • Developing a School Resource Officer (SRO) public dashboard. With the passage of Police Proposition 1 in November of 2018, the City added a School Resource Officers to each middle school in Kirkland. Working with the Lake Washington School District, the SRO dashboard will incorporate metrics such as: the number of students served, the outcome of each contact, race, gender, age, etc.
  • Developing a Human Resources public dashboard to show information about Kirkland employees, such as race and gender, to benchmark against the makeup of Kirkland’s population. This dashboard will also help the City review its hiring practices to be more inclusive.
  • Developing a Human Services public dashboard to display metrics such as: which service providers receive City grant funds, amount of investment in human services programming, grants awarded in the last five years, and outreach efforts to make the community aware of human services programs that exist.
  • “8 Can’t Wait” police use of force policy review. “8 Can’t Wait” is a national project of Campaign Zero to end police violence. The City of Kirkland has already adopted nearly all the policies but seeks outside review for confirmation and recommendations.
  • Contracting for third party policy use of force review and use of force data evaluation and analysis. Separate of the use of force dashboard, but certainly informed by it, the City will be contracting for a review of its use of force policy, data evaluation, and analysis. The contractor will make recommendations to the City for future implementation.
  • Contracting for a comprehensive City organizational equity assessment to identify gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of City policy, practice and procedure, and to identify proposed actions steps to address these gaps.
  • Conducting a comprehensive review of City procurement and contracting processes and documents to eliminate barriers for disadvantaged businesses enterprises to compete for City projects.
  • Evaluating whether public art, public symbols, special events and City programming in Kirkland are welcoming to all community members.
  • Expanding the diversity of public art, symbols, events and programming to be more inclusive.
  • Other potential strategies to undo structural racism in Kirkland.

2021 Community Safety Initiative

This initiative is described in overview via this informational flyer(PDF, 175KB). This effort consists of various actions that will be starting at different times throughout 2021-2022:

  • Four new Community Safety Partners are funded in the 2021-2022 budget. These “co-responders” might be Mental Health Professionals (MHP), social workers, and/or cultural navigators who partner with Police to respond to service calls that require something different than a Police Officer. These partners can relieve the burden on Police by helping people with mental illness or providing services to those are experiencing homelessness.
  • Police community accountability initiatives. One example may be the implementation of civilian review of certain Police use of force incidents.
  • Funding to provide body worn cameras for all Kirkland Police Officers, providing mutual transparency, accountability and safety for Police Officers and members of the public. Included are the evidence technician and public records staff positions necessary to support the body worn camera program.
  • Pilot program for Community Court in Kirkland to divert disadvantaged populations from the criminal justice system and connect them instead with needed support services.
  • Public Safety Community Relations Specialist that is shared between the Police and Fire Departments. This position implements public safety community education and outreach programs. The position also supports Police PIOs, emergency management, and crisis communication.
  • Various equity, diversity and inclusion efforts for the City organization once the equity gap analysis is completed. This includes money allocated specifically in the Police and Fire budgets to improve the recruitment and retention of women and people of color.
  • Hiring a Diversity and Inclusion Manager

The Community Safety Initiative contains funding for additional items:

  • The 2021-2022 budget retains the significantly enhanced human services grant funding amounts that were intended to expire at the end of 2020.
  • The 2021-2022 budget includes for the first time the Affordable Housing Sales Tax authorized by State House Bill 1406. This revenue is a credit provided to the City by the state and may be used for rental assistance or the construction of affordable housing. Giving the economic impact of COVID-19, the preliminary budget proposes to use these funds for low-income resident rental assistance in 2021-2022.
  • The 2021-2022 budget sustains the record high 2019-2020 investment in A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) as well as additional operating and capital funds for the creation of affordable housing.
  • Development Services/Welcoming Hall. The capital budget proposes to adapt a pending expansion of City Hall for development services staff into a more open customer service space designed to provide virtual service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The structure of this facility will also create a welcoming space and exhibition hall where multicultural heritage can be celebrated. This new hall is funded by development services fees and not general-purpose tax dollars.

Early Actions Update

Since the adoption of R-5434 on August 4, 2020, City staff across various departments have undertaken several actions as called for in Resolution R-5434. Below is a summary of the January 5, 2020 memo, as well as the February 16, 2021 Council Study Session, highlighting early action items related to R-5434, as well as next steps for each topic.

For reference, we have organized the actions into the sections in R-5434: transparency strategiesaccountability strategies, and community engagement strategies. Although beyond the specific scope of R-5434, we have also listed additional strategies related to the themes of R-5434.  

Accountability Strategies

Changes to the Use of Force Policy  

The Kirkland Police Department does not authorize the use of choke holds. Prior to June 2020, the Police Department allowed the use of Vascular Neck Restraint (VNR) as an intermediate use of force. However, in response to the death of George Floyd, on June 23, 2020, the Police Department changed the use of force policy categorizing VNR as deadly force. As such, the Police Department has discontinued training Kirkland’s officers in the use of VNR, which required an initial eight hours for certification and four hours every year to maintain that certification. Any technique or tool categorized as deadly force can only be used by officers to protect themselves or others from what they reasonably believe would be an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. VNR remains specifically categorized as deadly force not to support the use of VNR, but to acknowledge that numerous officers have been trained on VNR for many years.  Additionally, the Police Department has an independent chapter in its policy manual on “crisis intervention incidents” which defines de-escalation and how it should be used while dealing with someone in a behavioral health crisis. This definition is now also included in the forefront of the chapter on use of force in the section under definitions.  

An initial review of Kirkland Police Department’s use of force policy was the topic of the July 7, 2020 Council Study Session.  More information can be found in the Council memo(PDF, 1022KB).

Next steps: Use of force evaluation will be ongoing in 2021. 

Evaluating Options for Independent Civilian Oversight of Police Use of Force 
The City Attorney’s Office (CAO) is currently reviewing independent police oversight models implemented in various cities. With more than two hundred oversight agencies throughout the U.S., the CAO is focusing on models utilized in cities like Kirkland in size, resources, and/or community.

There are many different configurations for police oversight, with three general categories of oversight models:

  1. Investigative/ombudsman, where the oversight body conducts independent investigations of specific incidents or complaints through professional, non-police staff;
  2. Review, where the oversight body, through either professional or volunteer board members, reviews and may hear appeals of completed police investigations of specific incidents; and
  3. Auditor/monitor/inspector general, where the oversight body, through professional staff, evaluates systemic issues with police investigations, training, policies, and supervision, rather than reviewing specific incidents.

With these models and any hybrid iterations, the authority of the oversight body can extend to policy recommendations, facilitating community forums, and more.

Next steps: We will present additional information for Council consideration at a subsequent meeting. 

National Best Practice Research for Alternatives to Police  

City staff have been researching co-responder programs across the nation, and an overview of several such programs are provided here(PDF, 121KB). Staff analysis by the City Manager’s Office and Police Department has made a preliminary determination that a program similar to the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) model that began in Eugene, Oregon may be the most applicable to the City of Kirkland. Chief Harris is working with the same consultant the City used to define the Neighborhood Resource Officer and Mental Health Professional roles from the 2018 Enhanced Police Services and Community Safety Proposition 1. The consultant is evaluating options and the relationship such a program would have to the Community Court.  

Additionally, we are in discussion with the Eugene Police Department and NORCOM to look at how emergency dispatch is used as a key component of the CAHOOTS model. 

Next steps: Based on all of the conversation to date, there is strong evidence that dispatch is key to a successful co-responder program. Staff asked that NORCOM evaluate how dispatch operations would be impacted and whether additional resources would be necessary as these programs are developed. The Eugene CAHOOTS program is tentatively scheduled to provide a briefing to the NORCOM Governing Board on February 12, 2021 on how their co-responder model would affect the current NORCOM processes. Staff will provide an update for the Council from this board meeting during the Spring update. 


Community Court Implementation  

The Kirkland Municipal Court convened a Community Court formation committee in January 2020, but with the onset of the COVID pandemic, meetings were put on hold until September 2020. The committee is actively meeting in anticipation of the Kirkland Community Court’s expected beginning in March 2021.

Next steps: Judge John Olson and Community Court consultant Marilyn Littlejohn will provide the Council with an in-depth review of this topic at the January 5, 2021 Study Session. Ms. Littlejohn previously coordinated the Burien Community Court, and is working with the Judge, Court Administrator, Prosecutor, Public Defenders, and City staff on implementing Kirkland’s Community Court, with a first Community Court calendar targeted for the first half of March 2021. Staff is also working on defining and recruiting volunteer roles for Resource Center, a key component of Community Court. 

Contract for an Organizational Equity Assessment and Creating an Equity and Diversity Strategic Plan 

The City has contracted with Chanin Kelly-Rae Consulting on conducting an organizational equity needs assessment. The purpose of this work is to allow City Council, City staff, and the community to better understand issues related to organizational and community inequities and to identify strategies for addressing those inequities in City government and the community.  

In addition to the organizational equity needs assessment, Ms. Kelly-Rae will guide a gap analysis and strategic planning process involving the community to better position the City in identifying internal and external growth opportunities relative to the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The result of this work will be an “Equity Plan of Record”, which is intended to inform various programs, policies, and practices across the City organization, not just those identified in R-5434. 

Next steps: This work is anticipated to begin in early January 2021 and conclude sometime in late 2021.  

Contracting and Procurement Updates 

The City Manager’s Office (CMO) met with local community experts Ms. Ollie Garrett, President and CEO of PMT Solutions, and Mr. Luis Navarro, Director of Workforce Development in the Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion for the Port of Seattle. Based on those conversations, CMO staff met with the Financial Operations Manager and the City Attorney to develop options that would align the City’s contracting and procurement policies and processes with the goals and intentions of Resolution R-5434's section 3(c).

Next steps: From those meetings, staff have drafted revisions to the City’s procurement process that will be discussed in further detail at the second Council meeting in February 2021.  

Proposed changes to the City of Kirkland Public Art Policy Guidelines 
Staff have drafted updates the Kirkland Public Art Policy Guidelines to incorporate the themes and priorities of R-5434. The Kirkland Public Art Policy Guidelines is used by the Kirkland Cultural Arts Commission (KCAC) in the acquisition of public art in Kirkland. The updated policy guidelines include updated goals and criteria for selecting art, as well as including a new racial equity statement. The draft racial equity statement reads:  

Racial Equity Statement (draft) 

The KCAC, in alignment with the City Council, seeks to dismantle structural racism in Kirkland. The KCAC affirms that all people, their cultures, and their art contribute to the meaning and understanding of our shared humanity and should be honored and celebrated. The KCAC strives to proactively solicit and curate art that reflects the diversity of the Kirkland community, encourages a sense of belonging for all people, and supports the expression of historically marginalized communities. The art created by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color performs a unique role in our community and helps provide inspiration to resolve societal inequity and injustice. This important work of bringing equity to art is pivotal to the KCAC’s efforts to confront injustices of the past and reveal inequities of the present in order to build a more diverse, inclusive collection of public art, now and in the future. 

Next steps: The draft policy guidelines has been endorsed by the KCAC and will be brought to Council for consideration and adoption at a subsequent meeting.  

Transparency Strategies

Transparency Strategies Overview
Section 1 of R-5434 calls for the development of five public dashboards to allow the community and the Council to understand how the City as an organization is performing. In this context, dashboard refers to a way to display information that drives accountability and decision making with images and text that are easy to understand. These public dashboards will display various data in number, percentage, and/or graphic form (e.g. pie charts, line graphs, and other infographic types) and will include various filters to display specific data (e.g. disaggregated by race or other factors). Additionally, some dashboards may include written narratives, definitions, or other accompanying information to the numbers and graphs to support the data in number and graphical form.

Please note that Department staff are already reviewing data and taking action to address identified gaps even as the dashboards are being developed.  For example, Deputy Chief Todd Aksdal has reviewed all use of force cases in 2019 and 2020 to identify potential operational concerns, and Human Resources Director Anh Hoang has already implemented some recruitment best management practices to improve the diversity of the City’s workforce.

Key Considerations and Best Practice Review
From the early action community engagement and national best practice review, staff have identified several principles that can be applied to the development of all the new dashboards, regardless of content. Any City dashboard should be:

  • Accessible
    1.  Easy to find through navigation and search on the City’s website;
    2. Accommodating for screen reading technology for vision impairment and designed with color blindness best practices in mind;
    3. Understandable using common language with minimal jargon and acronyms and providing definitions where applicable; and
    4. Translatable for those in our community for which English is not their primary language. 
  • Sustainable
    1.  Identify and leverage existing data sources and creating efficient means of obtaining additional data as needed;
    2. Develop efficient processes for timely updates with clear staff roles and responsibilities; and
    3. Account for on-going costs to maintain, including staff time, software licensing, and other costs.
  • Connected
    1.  Connected to decision making and resource allocation;
    2. Build on prior work by integrating or referencing historical data (when available);
    3. Provide a feedback mechanism for on-going community feedback; and
    4. Articulate relationships between the new dashboards and other maps/reports (e.g. Kirkland Crime Map as it relates to the updated Crime Dashboard).

Staff will use this initial framework of principles to continue to develop the dashboards and will refine and/or add principles as additional best practice and community feedback is collected.

Next Steps
For each of the five dashboards called for in R-5434, staff seek direction from Council on the data set and preferred schedule for posting updated data.  Staff recommend a posting schedule of quarterly updates for most dashboards.  Staff recommends that both the School Resource Officer dashboard and the Human Services dashboard be updated on an annual basis.  Based on Council feedback, staff will refine data collection procedures, identify staff workflow, engage with dashboard vendor(s), and develop mockup versions of the draft dashboards.  Staff will begin engaging the broader Kirkland community on the dashboards throughout development.  Staff recommends returning for another study session at the May 18 Council meeting to present the mockup draft dashboards with real data, convey community feedback, and present a workplan for dashboard launch with an intended go live in September to help inform Council policy decisions into the next budget cycle. 

The following sections detail specific feedback, key considerations, and best practice review (as appropriate) for each of the dashboards for Council consideration. 


Use of Force Dashboard

  • Targeted Stakeholder Feedback
    Generally, focus group participants saw this is an important tool for police transparency and accountability, however very few groups spent much time discussing it during the focus group. Themes that did emerge from focus groups included providing transparency on how the data is collected and to continue to receive feedback from the community throughout an iterative creation and publication process. Finally, it was suggested to include a regular community meeting with police and other City staff as a way for community members to learn more, be heard about issues, and build trust. City staff presented to the Right To Breathe Committee a draft dashboard based on proposed State legislation as a potential starting point for community discussions.  The draft legislation is detailed below.  The Right To Breathe Committee supported using the draft legislation as an initial framework. 
  • Key Considerations and Best Practice Review
    State legislation currently under consideration by the State House (HB 1092) and Senate (SB 5259) would require the City to report quarterly to Washington State University on a number of different use of force metrics. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) also support the standardization of reporting on deadly use of force incidents across agencies.  If the Legislature adopts a standardized reporting system, State law would likely require the City to start with these metrics as a baseline to its use of force dashboard.  Staff will continue to monitor the legislation as the session continues.

    Following the presentation of a draft use of force dashboard at the July 7, 2020, City Council meeting, staff has further developed a draft dashboard to include geographical information on the subjects, definitions of terms, as well as further refining the data collected for the dashboard to ensure accuracy and transparency. This is being developed by staff to help guide the on-going discussion and to provide Council ideas for the final dashboard.  This draft uses an incomplete data set. 


Attorney General Use of Force Dashboard Metric

Does Kirkland Currently Collect This Data?

By January 31, April 30, July 31, and October 31 annually, each general authority Washington law enforcement agency and each limited authority Washington law enforcement agency shall report to Washington State University or its successor, in a manner developed by Washington State University, information under subsection (2) of this section of all incidents that occurred in the preceding three months:

In which a fatality to a person occurs connected to use of force by a law enforcement officer;


In which there is great bodily harm to a person connected to use of force by a law enforcement officer;


In which there is substantial bodily harm to a person connected to use of force by a law enforcement officer; and


In the absence of either death, great bodily harm, or substantial bodily harm, when a law enforcement officer:

i. Discharges a fire arm at or in the direction of a person;


ii. Points a firearm at a person;


iii. Uses a choke hold or vascular neck restraint;


iv. Uses an electronic control weapon (ECW), including, but not limited to a taser, against a person;


Uses oleoresin capsicum(pepper)spray against a person;


vi. Discharges a less-lethal shotgun or other impact munitions at or in the direction of a person;


vii. Strikes a person using an impact weapon or instrument, including, but not limited to, a club, baton, or flashlight;


viii. Punches or kicks a person using closed fists or feet;


ix. Uses a vehicle to intentionally strike a person or vehicle; and


x. Deploys a canine that bites a person.


When reporting an incident as required under subsection (1) of this section, the agency employing the officer that used force shall provide the following:

The date and time of the incident;


The location of the incident;


The agency or agencies employing the law enforcement officers;


The type of force used by the law enforcement officer;


The type of injury to the person against whom force was used, if any;


The type of injury to the law enforcement officer, if any;


Whether the person against whom force was used was armed or unarmed;


The type of weapon the person against whom force was used was armed with, if any;


The age, gender, race, ethnicity, of the person against whom force was used;

Yes, if known.

The tribal affiliation of the person against whom force was used, if applicable;


Whether the person against whom force was used exhibited any signs associated with a mental health or a substance use disorder based on the observation of the law enforcement officer;


The age, gender, race, ethnicity, of the law enforcement officer;

Yes for age, gender and race; No for ethnicity

The law enforcement officer's years of service;


The reason for the initial contact between the person against whom force was used and the law enforcement officer;


Whether any minors were present at the scene of the incident; and


If captured this would be in the narrative. Not currently capture in a searchable field

The entity conducting the independent investigation of the incident, if applicable.



Next Steps
Staff seek direction from Council on the data set and preferred schedule for posting updated data for the Use of Force dashboard.  Staff recommend a quarterly update schedule.  Based on Council feedback, staff will refine data collection procedures, identify staff workflow, engage with dashboard vendor(s), and develop a mockup version of the draft dashboard.  Staff will begin engaging the broader Kirkland community on all the dashboards throughout development.  Staff recommends returning for another study session at the May 18 Council meeting to present the mockup draft dashboards with real data, convey community feedback, and present a workplan for dashboard launch with an intended go live in September to help inform Council policy decisions into the next budget cycle. 

Additionally, the Police Department is actively engaged with several consultants to provide a review of the use of force policies and analysis of the use of force data.  The analysis of the use of force policy and data is anticipated to inform the development of the use of force dashboard.  If the results of the contracted use of force analysis indicate that department changes are needed, staff won’t wait until the dashboard is complete before taking action.

Staff will provide a draft dashboard at the February 16, 2021 Study Session for illustrative purposes only.

Enhancements to the Existing Police Dashboard

  • Targeted Stakeholder Feedback 

     Only one focus group identified this element for discussion. Focus group participants encouraged the inclusion of demographic data for both subject and officer that can be disaggregated.  Participants also suggested that the periodic publishing of the updated dashboard data be more inclusive by producing it in different languages and creating more content, such as a video, that is focused on public presentation.  Finally, participants thought that the dashboard should be accompanied by a description of how the City uses this data to inform and implement policy. 

  • Key Considerations and Best Practice Review
    The existing Police Dashboard had been developed over the course of several years to provide the City Council Public Safety Committee (discontinued in 2020 along with the other standing Council committees in favor of full Council topic reviews) with updates on crime trends, police program performance, and other items that might potentially inform the Council on any needed policy or resource changes. The Police Department had also developed the Community Crime Mapping online platform, which provides Kirkland-specific crime data searchable various search parameters, including date range, crime type, or distance from a specific address.

    In order to enhance the existing Police Dashboard to serve the needs of both the full Council (from a policy and resource perspective) and the public (from a performance perspective), the Chief and Deputy Chief St. Jean interviewed the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and each of the other five Councilmembers.  Several themes emerged from those interviews that could shape the development of a new police and crime dashboard:
  •  Include call for service data (type of calls & number of calls)
  • Expand the current categories to include both crimes and calls for service that are a frequent concern of the community, add:
    • Mail/Package theft
    • Persons experiencing homelessness
    • Persons experiencing mental health issues
  • Include demographics where feasible
  • Include definitions and or better describe crime categories
  • Continue the current Animal Services report
  • Continue the School Safety Camera report

There are several examples of police and crime dashboards across the country.  Many are geographically focused, which is the current focus of the Community Crime Mapping platform, while some focus more on data trends similar to the current quarterly dashboard.  Staff will continue to assess feedback from the community and best practices throughout the development of the crime dashboard.

Draft Kirkland Police Department Crime Dashboard Data

Currently Collected?

  • # Crimes of Interestand Calls for Services


  • Murder


  • Sex Offenses


  • Robbery


  • Aggravated Assault


  • Burglary - Residential


  • Burglary - Commercial


  • Motor Vehicle Theft


  • Motor Vehicle Prowl


  • DUI


  • Collisions


  • Mail/Package theft


  • Persons experiencing homelessness


  • Persons experiencing mental health issues


  • 2012-2019 Weighted Average (for each of #1 above)


  • Normal Range (for each of #1 above)


  • 2020 Numbers (for each of #1 above)


  • Change from Weighted Average (for each of #1 above)


  • The age, gender, race, ethnicity, of suspects (for each of #1 above)


  • The age, gender, race, ethnicity, of officers (for each of #1 above)


  • Animal Services report


  • School Safety Camera report



*Ethnicity data is not currently a part of the Police Department’s reporting system, nor is it collected for Officers

Next Steps
Staff seek direction from Council on the data set and preferred schedule for posting updated data for the existing Police Department dashboard.  Staff recommend a quarterly update schedule.  Based on Council feedback, staff will refine data collection procedures, identify staff workflow, engage with dashboard vendor(s), and develop a mockup version of the draft dashboard.  Staff will begin engaging the broader Kirkland community on all the dashboards throughout development.  Staff recommends returning for another study session at the May 18 Council meeting to present the mockup draft dashboards with real data, convey community feedback, and present a workplan for dashboard launch with an intended go live in September to help inform Council policy decisions into the next budget cycle. 

School Resource Officer Dashboard 

  • Targeted Stakeholder Feedback

    The School Resource Officer (SRO) Dashboard, and specifically the SRO Program itself, was among the most widely discussed and prioritized by the Black-centered focus groups. Although staff conveyed to focus group participants the fact that an evaluation of the SRO Program itself was not a part of R-5434, the focus group methodology used by staff invited discussion among the participants on any topic that the group wanted.  As such, the focus group feedback on the topic of SROs was mostly related to the program and not an SRO dashboard. Most focus group participants were generally critical of a police officer being in a school environment as it related specifically to the safety and respect of Black students, as well as students of color broadly. Some focus group participants characterized the presence of an officer in schools as itself a “use of force” and that an armed officer generally made students very uncomfortable. Some focus group participants emphasized that an interpersonal relationship can’t overcome an institutional problem, describing how one friendly officer won’t erase years of evidence of police officers in general being an oppressive force. Some focus group attendees expressed past personal stories of negative interactions with SROs at Juanita and Lake Washington High Schools back when they were students there and described the traumatic effect of incidents involving SROs and students of color. Generally, focus group participants suggested replacing school resource officers with mental health counsellors, social workers, or similarly trained professionals to connect students to services, indicating that, although SROs may be trained to do so, they are not as highly trained in this area as other professionals. 

  • Key Considerations and National Best Practice Review
    The Department’s SRO program expanded from two officers to six officers with the passage in 2018 of Proposition 1, –the Enhanced Police Services and Community Safety Measure, which provided specific funds dedicated to the additional positions in Kirkland Middle Schools. At the November 2018 election, 57% of Kirkland voters approved Proposition 1. In January of 2020, four additional SROs were assigned to the newly expanded Community Services Unit (CSU) comprised of both the SROs and the Neighborhood Resource Officers (NRO). They joined the two existing SROs, who were already assigned at Lake Washington High School and Juanita High School.

    Once Proposition 1 passed, and as directed by related Resolution R-5339, the City Manager and District Superintendent convened a SRO Task Force charged with becoming educated on the current SRO program, comparing the current program to national best practices, and making recommendations on improvements to the City and the District. The taskforce met seven times between June 2019 and January 2020, with a final report published in March 2020.

    On July 7, 2020, Assistant City Manager Lopez and Police Chief Harris presented the final report to the City Council and recommendations from the SRO Task Force, as directed in R-5339.  The overall theme of this report was that the Department has an excellent SRO program that is already following many of the national best practices.  There were several recommendations presented to the Council, mostly around reinforcing the idea that the overarching goal is keep students physically, socially and emotionally safe and prevent students from entering the juvenile justice system through building relationships, counseling and providing appropriate services.

    Building on the previous work of the SRO Task Force, a team consisting of staff from the Police Department, the City Manager’s Office, and the Lake Washington School District continue to collaborate on an SRO dashboard.  The City’s consultant, Ms. Kelly-Rae, has joined these meetings.  As developed by the task force as part of its recommendations, the purpose statement of Kirkland’s SRO Program is: 

     The Kirkland School Resource Officer program is a partnership between the City of Kirkland and the Lake Washington School District.
     The primary purposes of the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program are to:

  • Help keep students physically, socially and emotionally safe at school.
  • Provide for positive interactions between the SROs and students, families, and community members in order to make the Police Department more accessible and approachable.
  • Connect students with supportive services.
  • Help keep students out of the criminal justice system.

As it relates to the stated program goals, the focus group feedback related to SROs generally indicated that the experience of Black students and students of color is that they do not feel safe at school due to the presence of SROs, nor did they express having positive interactions with SROs.  Based on this feedback, the City/District staff team explored ways to ensure those experiences were being collected and tracked through the dashboard to help inform program review.  Staff used the purpose statement of the program as the basis for a set of questions related to program performance. These questions could be administered to all Kirkland middle and high school students (disaggregated by race and other demographic information) once, or potentially twice, a year.  A version of this survey could also be administered to parents, caregivers, and/or others in the school community.  The quantitative feedback from those surveys would provide the basis for five data points to be included in the SRO dashboard.  The specific logistics of administering the survey are pending further collaboration with the District.

Additionally, there are very few national examples of SRO dashboards that staff were able to find to model best practices after. One example is from the City of Chula Vista, California. It provides a public SRO dashboard embedded in its SRO Program webpage. The dashboard features mostly data related to calls for service by type, as well as crime activity at schools.  The SRO Program webpage provides broader information about the program, including mission, SRO role and goal statements, and resources.

As with the Use of Force dashboard, staff relied on state legislation to further inform what data could be displayed on an SRO dashboard. RCW 28A.320.124 requires the collection and reporting of certain data by the School District, nearly all of which is already being documented by the Police Department.  One piece of data that is not collected by the Police Department but is reported by the School District under the RCW is regarding whether a student involved in a call for service has an individualized education program (IEP) or a plan developed under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Ms. Chanin Kelly-Rae advised that including IEP data on an SRO dashboard would support the intent of R-5434, particularly as it relates to intersectionality between race and disability.  Staff will continue to explore with the School District the possibility of incorporating into the dashboard student data that the Kirkland Police Department currently does not collect while ensuring the privacy of students.

Finally, Ms. Kelly-Rae suggested the SRO dashboard could also display information on the various activities undertaken by the SROs in support of the program goals that generally are not collected in current reporting processes, such as classroom instruction and sports and community events, such as games, fund-raising events, and service events. 

Community Engagement Strategies

Community Engagement for R-5434
The community engagement process for R-5434 began in June 2020 when the City Manager, Police Chief, and Assistant City Manager began holding weekly meetings with the Right To Breathe Committee for on-going policy discussions. The Right To Breathe (RTB) Committee consists of several notable Black leaders from the Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition and has since become its own organization.  This group has met 20 times since June to date although the meetings have transitioned to twice per month.  The Right To Breathe Committee is also in conversation with the cities of Bellevue, Redmond, and Issaquah. In late December, the Right To Breathe Committee published a YouTube video sharing appreciation for the community. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2021, the Right To Breathe Committee issued City Progress Reports for the various Eastside cities with whom it is engaging in discussions. The status reports give an overview of the Right To Breathe Committee’s assessment of how safe that City is for Black people, organized around various policy areas. Kirkland’s Progress Report can be found online. These meetings continue to be helpful dialogues centered around the key policy priorities of the RTB Committee, and staff anticipate continuing to meet with the RTB Committee throughout the R-5434 process.

Throughout the summer of 2020, City of Kirkland had already begun planning for a regional Welcoming Week event in collaboration with staff from the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond, and Sammamish and the organizations Eastside Refugee and Immigrant Coalition, Eastside For All, and Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition. Upon Council’s adoption of R-5434, staff explored ways to strategically link the City’s forthcoming community engagement for R-5434 with the event. Held on September 26, 2020, the virtual Eastside Race and Equity Summit attracted over 240 attendees from across the Eastside. The event featured keynote speaker Mr. Delbert Richardson, a local Community Scholar, Ethnomuseumologist, Second Generation Storyteller, and Creator of the National Awarding Winning American History Traveling Museum: The “Unspoken” Truths, and the event highlighted several formal and informal Black-led and/or Black-centered groups on the Eastside who focus on racial equity.  City staff reached out to those groups featured at the event to plan focus groups that would be the basis for staff’s community engagement process centered on Black people called for in R-5434 § 4a.

Staff conducted a total of seven focus groups with Black-centered and/or Black-led groups between November 2020 and January 2021 and one focus group with a Latino group in February 2021.  Below is a listing of the groups that staff met with for focus groups:

  • Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition (ERLC)
  • Black Policy Advisory Committee
  • Movement of Advocacy for Youth
  • Eastside Change Coalition (met twice)
  • ERLC -organized student focus group
  • Eastside Embrace
  • Kirkland Promotores

Total attendance at the above eight meetings was approximately 52.  The focus groups were conducted using a facilitation format and methodology that the Assistant City Manager, Senior Neighborhood Services Coordinator, and several other City staff were trained in by the Change & Innovation Agency in 2018. City staff first used this methodology for the focus groups for the Gun Safety & Community Safety outreach of 2018, and it has been used numerous times since then by staff to collect feedback on a variety of topics. In general, this focus group methodology provides insight into what constitutes a successful program, service, or process. During the focus groups, staff provided a general overview of the various elements within R-5434 and sought guidance from the group on which topics to discuss and prioritize.  Additionally, the focus group methodology invited discussion among the participants on any topic that the group wanted.

Building off best practice research and community learning, staff used as inspiration a recently adopted policy by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) related to offering honoraria to focus group participants.  The PSRC policy can be found here labeled Attachment D.  Staff provided honoraria to early action focus group participants to help decrease barriers to participation for those that may need to obtain child care or incur other expenses in order to participate, while also acknowledging the time, energy, and effort in discussing structural racism with City staff, which often included sharing painful personal stories.

As part of the focus group process, staff requested that participants provide anonymous demographic information.  This was an optional component of the focus groups, and approximately half of the participants responded.  Demographic overview of focus groups participants can be found here labeled Attachment E

Since late Summer, staff have also attended numerous community group meetings, agency network meetings, and workshops held on topics related to R-5434.  Although staff would sometimes be called upon to provide an overview or update on R-5434, the focus of staff attendance at these meetings was to listen and learn.  Staff have attended numerous meetings not necessary to include in this memo, but some key highlights include:

  • Black Policy Advisory Committee meetings (eight meetings since June 2020)
  • Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition meetings (five meetings since June 2020)
  • Eastside Change Coalition: “BLM? Prove It” event on August 21, 2020
  • Eastside4BlackLives: Online Panel on August 25, 2020
  • Governing for Racial Equity & Inclusion (GREI): Quarterly meetings (Sept. 18 and Nov. 20, 2020)
  • City of Redmond: Listening Session on November 6, 2020
  • ACLU: “Transforming Police Culture” on December 8, 2020
  • Esri: “Using Location Intelligence to Address the Impact of Racial Injustice on Health Equity” event on January 27, 2021
  • King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias (KCAHB) in Conversation with Enrique Cerna on January 28, 2021
  • Indivisible Kirkland meeting on February 6, 2021

Additionally, as the targeted stakeholder focus groups concluded in early February, the City hosted a virtual community conversation on racial justice that was facilitated by Chanin Kelly-Rae, the City’s consultant for an organizational equity gap assessment. Approximately 35 community members attended and provided general feedback about their experience with race and racism in Kirkland. This event marked the transition from the targeted stakeholder engagement centered on Black people articulated in R-5434 § 4a-b to broader community-wide engagement. As the City continues through the equity gap assessment process as guided by Ms. Kelly-Rae, many more opportunities for community engagement will be available.

Finally, staff have posted two online surveys for the Kirkland community to provide feedback on the specific elements of R-5434.  Published on January 5, 2021, the first survey consists of comment boxes for each R-5434 element for respondents to provide feedback, and respondents do not need to comment on each item.  The second survey, published on January 28, 2021, focused specifically on the content of the R-5434 dashboards.  The purpose of these surveys is to collect feedback from the broader Kirkland community and will be widely distributed throughout the next phase of the community engagement process.

Key Insight from the Community Engagement: The Importance of Relationship
One consistent theme of nearly all the focus groups centered on Black people was the importance placed on the building of trusted relationships as the first step to discuss topics such as racism.  Many focus group participants mentioned how they are generally very distrustful of engaging with local government around issues of racism, discrimination, and bias, as they have provided feedback in the past that did not result in any action or identifiable change in circumstance.  Participants were generally appreciative of the City efforts around R-5434 and staff reaching out to seek insight from Black community members.  However, many participants still expressed a sense of guardedness despite engaging with staff. 

Staff approached these initial meetings as the start of further relationships with these groups and constituents, and staff recognize that trust takes time to build through on-going dialogue.  Staff plan on following up with all the focus groups at various points throughout the implementation of R-5434 to report back and/or seek further input.

Early Action Updates and Next Steps
Below is an update on each element of R-5434 presented in the following format:

  • Targeted Stakeholder Feedback – this represents the feedback collected from the eight focus groups.  Staff have articulated themes heard from focus groups, as well as highlighting specific points of insight from specific focus groups and/or participants.  In a few instances, staff have included other targeted feedback collected outside of the focus groups.
  • Key Considerations and Best Practice Review - this includes policy considerations for the element as well as an overview of national best practices.
  • Current Status - a few elements include an update on this program’s current status.
  • Next Steps - for each element, staff provide a general overview of anticipated action(s).  Staff are seeking general direction from Council on each element.

Note: The Right To Breathe Committee focuses its work around a set of policy areas, some of which correspond with specific R-5434 elements. Staff continue to engage in dialogue about those policy areas with the RTB Committee, however staff have not included those policy areas as feedback for the purposes of this memo. 

Other Strategies Related to the Themes of R-5434

Review and Monitoring of Relevant Draft State Legislation 

The City Council approved its state legislative priorities for the 2021 session at its November 4, 2020 meeting and it added a new segment to the City’s legislative agenda called the priority coalition advocacy agenda(PDF, 125KB). The priority coalition advocacy agenda highlights a limited number of key legislative priorities that are critical to Kirkland but that are championed by other organizations. For these items, the City may provide support as part of a coalition but would not take the lead. Council identified three items for this segment going into the 2021 session, one of which includes advocating for the Association of Washington Cities’ (AWC) Statewide Policing Reforms priority.   

Shortly after Council adopted the City’s 2021 priorities and priority coalition advocacy items, the Attorney General circulated for review and comment its request draft legislation related to collecting and publishing information regarding law enforcement use of force. The draft was distributed to subject-matter experts in several city departments including the City Manager’s Office (CMO), where staff were encouraged by its model dashboard as well as the proposed legislation’s potential to support the city’s efforts in implementing Resolution R-5434 if it were passed by the legislature.  

According to the AWC, several other proposals in the area of police reforms have been offered for review as well, including an ACLU draft bill relating to enhancing public trust and confidence in law enforcement and strengthening law enforcement accountability. The ACLU bill focusing strongly on preventing collective bargaining agreements from limiting police accountability.   

Police Reform Bill Drafts Identified (as of December 22 per the AWC)* 

  • Decertification – Sen. Pedersen / Rep. Goodman 
  • Duty to intervene – Sen. Dhingra 
  • Brady / Impeachment – Sen. Dhingra  
  • Deadly Use of Force Audits – Sen. Dhingra(PDF, 54KB)  
  • Law enforcement use of force data – Rep. Lovick (Attorney General Request) 
  • Tactics (ban) – Rep. Johnson 
  • Use of Force Standard – Rep. Johnson  
  • Civil claim / 1983 – Rep. Thai 
  • Community accountability boards – Rep. Johnson 
  • Beltran – Serrano (standard of care) – Rep. Johnson 
  • Felony bar removal (LE) – Rep. Lekanoff / Sen. Frockt 
  • Hiring / Civil service/ diversity – Sen. Kuderer  
  • Law enforcement accountability(PDF, 133KB) (ACLU version) – Sen. Salomon 
  • CBA / WASPC version** 
  • Independent Investigation / prosecutions – Rep. Entenman (Governor Request) 

* Aside from the AG’s bill, the ACLU’s bill and Sen. Dhingra’s Deadly Use of Force Audit bill, staff has not seen any other bill drafts, but we have flagged the above list for review when these bills are brought forward. 

** Anticipate WASPC will rerun their data bill and they have an agenda as well. So far Rep. Maycumber has picked up their suicide prevention bill.   

The AWC reports that police reform bills will likely be heard the first week of the 2021 session, which officially opens January 11, 2021. In the interim, the City’s Government Relations staff will continue to work with the AWC and the City’s contract lobbyist to track bill drafts being circulated on this and other topics that could impact the City. The process of tracking and monitoring will become systematic as bill drafts are formally dropped in the hopper and assigned bill numbers. The City’s robust bill review process will include reviewing bill drafts for potential impact to the work the City is doing for Resolution R-5434.   

Welcoming Kirkland Initiative

The Welcoming Kirkland Initiative (WKI) completed its work and published a report titled Reflections and Lessons Learned to the public in early December 2020. WKI was developed to address issues that were identified in a 2018 incident at Menchie’s in Totem Lake which highlighted concerns that People of Color in general, and Black people, in particular, have lived experiences of an unwelcoming and inequitable community in contrast to the City’s stated goal to be safe, inclusive and welcoming for all. The WKI planning and working groups included more than 20 diverse leaders, representing a variety of public needs. Community talks included topics such as Preparing to be Color Conscious and Color Brave, which brought nearly 100 attendees. As noted by City staff in the Reflections report, the City hopes to engage the WKI group as a key point of community feedback and insight throughout the R-5434 civic engagement process. 

Welcoming Cities Collaborative 

The City signed on as a welcoming city through the Welcoming America network in 2017. Since then, we have continued to explore ways to support the City’s safe, inclusive, and welcoming work as directed in the 2017 Resolution R-5240. One such strategy has been meeting for over a year with representatives from neighboring Eastside cities and from Eastside for All to explore the idea of a regional partnership called the Welcoming Cities Collaborative. This effort is envisioned to further the work of equity, inclusion, and racial justice in Kirkland and on the Eastside, while also achieving the requirements of the Welcoming America Standard and Certification. As this work has been directly in line with R-5240 and is further supported by R-5434, the City Manager’s Office has committed two years of funding for the City’s full participation in this effort, funded from 2019-2020 community engagement funds. 

Preliminary Work on Reimagining Kirkland’s Neighborhood U Informed by the Bellevue Essentials Program 

CMO staff met with a representative from the City of Bellevue’s Neighborhood Outreach group to discuss the Bellevue Essentials Program, a nine-week, 35-40 student civic engagement program that combines a curriculum on the structure of city government with hands-on activities which allow participants to simulate day-to-day challenges of city government. Having just completed their eighth year of running the program, a record 73 community members applied to participate, and all 40 who were accepted successfully completed the program

A key component of Bellevue Essentials is to encourage graduates to stay engaged with the city and their neighborhoods, and the program has an alumni group with more than 250 members. Another highlight of the program is the diversity of participants in the program, which aligns with the intent of R-5434 as well as several “Civic Engagement” actions articulated in the recently adopted Sustainability Master Plan.

Neighborhood Services staff will incorporate the insight and resources provided by Bellevue staff into other national best practice research as staff continue to develop the 2021 “Kirkland Essentials” program (final name to be determined).  

National Day of Racial Healing Proclamation 
Based on the first loop focus groups and other research, we have identified proclaiming January 19, 2021 as the “National Day of Racial Healing in Kirkland” as one potential immediate action the City could do in support of the intentions of R-5434. The National Day of Racial Healing was created in 2016 through a collaboration of hundreds of leaders and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) and is part of WKKF’s “Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT)” framework. Here(PDF, 148KB) is an example proclamation, which would be adapted to the specificity of Kirkland’s efforts related to racial equity as articulated in R-5434. 

Kirkland Indigenous History Compilation  
The CMO Volunteer Services Coordinator is compiling from available written resources the hyper-local indigenous history of present-day Kirkland and the shores of Lake Washington. The result of this project will be a 12-page report that includes an equity affirmation, local land acknowledgment, native place name map, and a summary history narrative. This work will include contracting with local Native key informants for their review of the draft report, as well as additional review by leaders of hyper-local tribal governments, federally recognized or otherwise.

Next steps: We will bring the final report to Council for review and adoption. 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan and Equity Impact Assessment 
The City contracted MacDonald Boyd and Associates to support the City’s broader outreach related to its ADA Transition Plan conducted throughout 2019. As part of this process, the consultant developed an equity impact assessment (EIA)(PDF, 962KB)  for the City’s use. This tool can enhance equity and inclusion in the development of policies, programs, services, and initiatives.

The consultant hosted one training session in late February of 2020, just before the pandemic emerged, which was attended by 39 staff from various departments and job classifications. In the training, participants had the opportunity to reflect on tangible ways to advance the broader City-wide goals of being a safe, inclusive and welcoming community by practicing using the EIA on existing or forthcoming policies, programs, or services.

Next steps: Additional staff trainings are forthcoming. This tool is intended to be broadly used across the departments and can be used to support Action SG-4.2 in the Sustainability Master Plan: “Develop a process to identify and dismantle unintended barriers to public participation by considering and responding to the diversity of our community, including the various cultural, ethnic, and historical experiences of community members.” 

Equity and Inclusion Dashboard 

The Equity and Inclusion dashboard is a geospatial map project initiated by the Planning & Building Department that will provide various City departments the tools to review demographics for the City – or for smaller geographic units within the City – as they relate to City projects and programs.

The goal is for these projects and programs to efficiently conduct an equity impact assessment to determine whether any groups might be negatively impacted by the project, whether there are issues of access for some groups, and how a project might positively impact equity and inclusion. The dashboard would utilize existing data from sources such as the US Census, American Fact Finder, Washington State Office of Financial Management, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and Puget Sound Regional Council, in addition to Kirkland data sets to enable internal users to quickly run queries for user-defined geographic areas.

Next steps: The project team is anticipated to begin focused work on this dashboard in early 2021. 

Development Services/Welcoming Hall  
The City Manager provided a presentation on an initial concept for a development services / welcoming hall to Council on November 4, 2020. The capital budget includes the adaptation of the pending expansion of City Hall for development services staff into a more open customer service space designed to provide virtual service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The structure of this facility will also create a welcoming space and exhibition hall where multicultural heritage can be celebrated. This new hall would be funded by development services fees and not general-purpose tax dollars. 

Next steps: As directed by Council, staff will return with schematic designs, which will include architectural/engineering consulting, preliminary construction cost estimates, and an overall forecasted project budget. 

Right to Breathe Committee Update

The Right to Breathe Committee has issued City Progress Reports for the various Eastside cities with whom it is engaging in discussions. The status reports give an overview of the Right to Breathe Committee’s assessment of how safe that City is for Black people, organized around various policy areas. View Kirkland's Progress Report here. 


Glossary of Terms

The following glossary of terms is still under development. 

  • Dashboard – a way to display information with images and text in a way that’s easy to understand
  • Data – facts and numbers about a service of the City 
  • Demographic information – for example: age, race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment
  • Design Elements – parts of a dashboard display, for example colors, graphs, pie charts, and tables
  • Human Services – for example: housing services, food banks, mental health services, and health care 
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) – an annual written statement of an educational program developed for a student eligible for special education. It describes the unique educational needs of the student and the manner in which those educational needs will be met.
  • School Resource Officer – a uniformed police officer assigned to each middle and high school in Kirkland through a partnership between the City of Kirkland and the Lake Washington School District.  The primary purposes of the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program are to:
    • Help keep students physically, socially and emotionally safe at school. 
    • Provide for positive interactions between the SROs and students, families, and community members in order to make the Police Department more accessible and approachable. 
    • Connect students with supportive services.
    • Help keep students out of the criminal justice system.
  • Weighted Average – a calculation that takes into account the varying degrees of importance of the numbers in a data set
    • Change from Weighted Average – the difference between a number and the weighted average of that category
  • Use of Force – the use of physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents, or weapons on another person, as well as a show of force, such as displaying a firearm and/or taser, in order to gain compliance or overcome resistance. The Kirkland Police Department Policy Manual states: “Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”