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 ensuring the safety and respect of Black people and examining and dismantling institutional and structural racism in Kirkland.  These actions come with significant funding, and the City has been guided by community feedback on how best to use this funding and how to reimagine Kirkland.  Community feedback on this work has and continues to have a direct influence on various City and Police Department policies, programs, practices, and work culture.

Update (07/05/22) - the City Council accepted the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 5-Year Roadmap(PDF, 365KB) through Resolution R-5548(PDF, 309KB).


Community Engagement

The City began engaging the community alongside the drafting of R-5434 in June of 2020.  R-5434 called for 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, youth, and community members, and other people of color from November 2020 through February 2021 to help inform the City’s approach to this work.  Additionally, City staff also sought intentional engagement with Indigenous people and other people of color, with a focus on including intersectional voices.  Finally, City staff engaged the wider community to identify and implement solutions to interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism in Kirkland. 

Although formal engagement on the broader R-5434 effort is now over, the City continues to seek feedback on various R-5434 related elements.  Visit the Community Conversations portal for the latest opportunities to engage in this important work.

Background and R-5434 Milestones


  • January – R-5434 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) 5-Year Roadmap City Council Briefing and Discussion 

  • January – R-5434 Update on Dashboards

  • May 17 – R-5434 DEIB 5-Year Roadmap City Council Briefing and Discussion of next steps. 

  • July 5 –  R-5434 Council accepted the DEIB 5-Year Roadmap(PDF, 365KB) through Resolution R-5548(PDF, 309KB), and adopted Ordinance O-4796 Enacting a new chapter of the Kirkland Municipal Code restricting use of facial recognition technology, and authorizing use of Police Body Worn Cameras. Watch the Roadmap presentation here, and the Body Worn Camera presentation here.






R-5434 Funding Commitments

The City has committed significant funding to support many actions aimed at dismantling structural racism and ensuring the safety and respect of Black people, including:

  • Hiring a new team of Community Responders - six experienced, licensed mental health professionals who partner with other first responders on certain calls related to behavioral crisis.   
  • Initiating a police body worn camera pilot project - July 5, 2022 Council adopted Ordinance O-4796 authorizing the program's commencement.
  • Launching a pilot program for Community Court in Kirkland to divert disadvantaged populations from the criminal justice system and instead connect them with needed support services.
  • Hiring a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Manager - Erika Mascorro began with the City in June of 2022.
  • Conducting a third-party organizational equity assessment of the City - updates can be seen below in the Accountability Strategies which includes Council's adoption of the DEIB 5-Year Roadmap(PDF, 365KB) on July 5, 2022.

Some actions started immediately as part of the Early Action Initiative and have continued as part of the 2021-2022 Community Safety Initiative. The 2021-2022 Community Safety Initiative’s informational flyer describes what the City planned to do as of the passing of Resolution R-5434 in August of 2020. Since then, the City has made progress toward the transparency, accountability, and community engagement strategies outlined in R-5434 and below are details describing the progress to date.   

Status of R-5434 Actions

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 brief summary of each R-5434 element, organized into the sections in R-5434: transparency strategiesaccountability strategies, and community engagement strategies

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.

  • Use of Force Dashboard - The Police Department hired Police Force Strategies Consulting for analysis and development of an interactive use of force dashboard. The dashboard is complete and posted here.  
  • Enhancements to the existing Police Dashboard - Dashboard is complete and posted here
  • School Resource Officer (SRO) Dashboard - The Police Department and City Manager’s Office are working closely with the Lake Washington School District to continue exploring the publication of an SRO dashboard in Fall of 2022. When complete, it will be posted here.
  • Human Resources Dashboard - Dashboard is complete and posted here.
  • Human Services Dashboard - the Human Services dashboard is complete and posted here. 

Accountability Strategies

  • “8 Can’t Wait” police use of force policy review.  City of Kirkland Police Department contracted with the 8 Can’t Wait organization for a review of Kirkland Police Department policies related to the 8 Can’t Wait framework. The Police Department amended their policies in January 2021 according to the 8 Can’t Wait organization’s review and feedback and brought the recommendations to Council on February 16, 2021. Here are links to the agenda items and meeting recording.  

  • Contracting for third party policy use of force review and use of force data evaluation and analysis.  In Spring 2021 the City signed a contract with Police Force Strategies, an outside consultant for use of force analysis and data evaluation that helped inform the new use of force dashboard.  An update from the consultant was provided to the City Council in January 2022. Here are links to the agenda items and meeting recording

  • Evaluating Options for Independent Civilian Oversight of Police Use of Force.  The City was initially tracking Representative Johnson’s bill (HB 1203) relating to the creation of community oversight boards. That bill did not make it out of the 2021 legislative session, so instead, the City updated its current Ombud Program to provide better transparency and options for the community related to Police oversight.  Details are now live on the City’s Ombud webpage.   

  • Evaluating changes to the Police Department’s 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. In June 2020, the Police Department changed the use of force policy and now categorizes VNR as deadly force and has discontinued training Kirkland’s officers in the use of VNR.  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.  Additional use of force changes can be found above under the "8 Can't Wait" police use of force review section.

  • Developing a police body camera pilot program. Council adopted Ordinance O-4796 authorizing use of Police Body Worn Cameras, but not authorizing the use of facial recognition technology. Many updates on timeline, community engagement process, and policy decisions needed for implementation of police body worn cameras have gone before the Council. Here are the most recent agenda items, ordinance, and meeting recording  from July 5, 2022.

  • Review of National Best Practices for Alternatives to Police. This topic was originally brought to Council on May 18, 2021. Since then, there have been extensive programmatic updates recommended and approved by Council. The biggest change is that the City is working on a partnership with five neighboring cities to create an entity that would merge the existing Radar Navigator program and Kirkland's Community Responder Program into a Regional Mobile Crisis Response Program. Here are the links to the April 19, 2022 agenda items, resolution, and recording

  • Kirkland Community Court. The Kirkland Community Court began operation in the Spring of 2021. Here are links to the agenda items and meeting recording for the update brought before the Council at their January 5, 2021 meeting. More information can be found on the Kirkland Community Court website here

  • Contracting for a comprehensive City organizational equity assessment to identify gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of City policy.  The City contracted Chanin Kelly-Rae to conduct the organizational equity assessment. Since January 2021, Ms. Kelly-Rae has conducted numerous one-on-one interviews, focus groups, employee listening sessions, community meetings, an all-staff survey, a community survey, and strategic document review.  Ms. Kelly-Rae provided an update on her work at the May 4, 2021 City Council Study Session.  Informed by this research, Ms. Kelly-Rae compiled an executive summary findings of her diversity, equity, and inclusion gap analysis and recommendations, which she presented for Council review and discussion at the October 19, 2021 City Council Study Session.  As part of that work, Ms. Kelly-Rae worked closely with City staff on a preliminary draft DEIB Five Year Roadmap  (Roadmap), which will be one chapter of the City’s Equity Plan of Record. Council accepted the Roadmap at their July 5, 2022 Council meeting. The final Roadmap(PDF, 340KB) can be seen here, along with Resolution R-5548, agenda items, and presentation recording.  The Roadmap is structured to align with the King County Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan and contains six goal areas.  Within those six goal areas are currently a total of 18 goals and 68 objectives.  The preliminary draft Roadmap was included in the Council packet materials for the October 19 Council Study Session.  The Roadmap was also a topic at the January 4 and May 17 City Council Study Sessions. Here are the links to the agenda items and recording  from January 4, and the agenda items and recording from May 17. 

  • Conducting a comprehensive review of City procurement and contracting processes and documents to eliminate barriers for disadvantaged businesses enterprises to compete for City projects.  Council adopted a new Equity in Contracting policy at its September 21, 2021 meeting.  The agenda materials(PDF, 772KB) and video of the meeting are on the City's website.

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 that became its own organization.  This group met over two dozen times between June 2020 and early 2021, and City leadership continues to regularly meet with the RTB Committee.  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.

Throughout the summer of 2020, City staff 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 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 invite to participate in focus groups.  These focus groups became the basis for staff’s community engagement process centered on Black people called for in R-5434.

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.  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 provided honoraria to early action focus group participants to help decrease barriers to participation.  This helped 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.

Throughout 2020 and into 2021, staff 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 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 to broader community-wide engagement. As part of this broader engagement, staff published 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. 

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.”




Community Resources

Removing a restrictive covenant from a property title

As provided by King County

Starting on January 1, 2022, property owners who have an unlawful, discriminatory restrictive covenant associated with their property will be able to remove the covenant from their property deed.

The new option comes as a result of House Bill 1335 (HB 1335), passed by the Washington State Legislature during the 2021 Legislative session. The legislation provides a judicial remedy to have a restricted covenant struck from the chain of title.  

If a property owner wants the covenant removed, they go to Superior Court (paying the nominal court fee) in the county in which the property is located. Superior Court may issue a declaratory judgment action - entering an order striking the void provisions from the public records and eliminating the void provisions from the title.  The property owner bringing the action may obtain and deliver a certified copy of the order to the County Recording Office, who will record the document for no fee.

King County Archives will maintain the restrictive covenants for historical purposes, but the new process allows property owners to separate historic records from their future property transactions.

For more information on unlawful, discriminatory restrictive covenants, please visit King County's website.  Kirkland residents wanting support in removing covenants from the chain of title for their property can contact Communications Program Manager David Wolbrecht at dwolbrecht@kirklandwa.gov or 425-587-3021.