Spokane mayor lays out goals, priorities for 2023 | Washington
Spokane mayor lays out goals, priorities for 2023 | Washington

Source: Google News

(The Center Square) – Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward recorded a video for the start of a new year that laid out her goals and priorities for 2023.

“This year will also have its share of challenges and I’m confident Spokane will find its way to through – work together to meet whatever life throws at us,” she said.

Top of the to-do list, said Woodward, was forming a regional homeless authority to build on the collaborative efforts already underway to get people off the streets.

A Point-in-Time count performed by about 150 volunteers in early 2022 found that 1,757 people over the age of 18 were homeless in the city, with 823 of those individuals unsheltered.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development requires the count to help determine funding levels for homeless services and assist regional planning efforts.

The city is seeking volunteers to help with the 2023 PIT count that will take place Jan. 24-19. People can find more information or sign up at my.spokanecity.org.

Second on Woodward’s work list is advocating at the legislative level to correct “unintended consequences” from a package of police reform bills in 2021. The mayor testified earlier this year in Olympia against restrictions on police pursuits that she believes have emboldened criminals and handcuffed officers so they can’t do their jobs.

Two years ago, the Washington Legislature passed a police reform package that, among other things, limits police to engaging in a pursuit only if there is “probable cause” to arrest a person in the vehicle for committing a specific violent crime or sex offense.

Prior to that law, police could pursue a vehicle if there was reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed or was going to be committed soon. Under the probable cause standard, police, deputies and troopers must have known facts that a crime has occurred in order to act.

As a result of the legislature’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to pursuits, law enforcement leaders report that drivers are increasingly refusing to pull over for police.

The Washington State Patrol reports 934 incidents of drivers who simply ignored lights and sirens when police tried to make a traffic stop.

One law-breaking driver called 911 and complained that the police were still following him. He told dispatch that officers were violating state law prohibiting them from chasing him.

In addition, authorities report that, since police powers were scaled back, violent crime rates have increased and vehicle thefts across the state are up by 93%.

“That will be an important conversation for our community and the state,” said Woodward of plans to address legislators after the 2023 session begins on Jan. 9.

Woodward’s third goal is to work with community partners to establish more mental health services, especially among vulnerable populations, such as youth and the homeless.

“My main resolution is to continue to build the relationships and partnerships that delve into these types of big things,” she said.

She said the key to building those relationships was to engage in an educational exchange of dialogue.

“To listen is to learn and learning is never done,” she said.

Key to continuing Spokane’s reputation and legacy of achievement was “collaboration, partnership and leadership,” summarized Woodward.