Demographic Advisory Councils
These diverse councils provide an effective way to build bridges between minority communities and the police department, which results in increased awareness, improved understanding, and open dialogue regarding challenging issues including perceptions of racial profiling. Advisory councils are also a good way to gain knowledge and understanding of SPD and policing in general.
HISTORY OF THE ADVISORY COUNCILS
The Seattle Police Department formed Precinct Advisory Councils (PACs) in the late 1980s as one of the Department’s first community policing efforts. The goal of the councils was to have groups of citizens, who were geographically based, become more knowledgeable about law enforcement in their communities and more invested in partnering with the Department on public safety issues.
In the mid-1990s, the Seattle Police Department observed that the established Precinct Advisory Councils were not reflective of the diverse communities living in the city, and believed it was critical to create an avenue for the Department to reach out and develop relationships with these communities. The goal was to create more diverse advisory groups to educate the Department about the challenging issues and concerns within these specific communities.
- African American
- East African
- Muslim, Sikh and Arab
- Native American
- South East Asian
- City Wide Advisory Council
Assigned to each council is:
- At least one police officer
- One designated member of the Command Staff, and
- One staff member from the Department
This structure provides council and community members with access to the Department not only at the 'street' level but at the Command 'policy and decision making' level. It also provides the opportunity for issues of concern to be made known to the Department and collaboratively resolved..
Officer Liaisons attend advisory council meetings and spend non-enforcement time with community-based organizations referred by councils. They also problem solve issues with council and community members, educate the community about the Department and its role, respond to crisis situations in their respective communities, and facilitate meetings regarding police and citizen interactions.
Overall Goal of the Councils
The overall goal of the councils is to create and strengthen programs and communication efforts that build trust between police and demographic communities. The councils work to increase participation of individuals from demographic communities working in partnership with Seattle Police on public safety issues.
Increase ongoing dialogue between Seattle Police and demographic communities about perceptions of law enforcement in the community.
Break down negative perceptions of law enforcement in demographic communities by building relationships between individual officers and members of demographic communities and create and strengthen programs and communication efforts that build trust between police and demographic communities.
- Improve officer training and education regarding cultural norms that may impact police and citizen interactions.
- Enhance the understanding of the role of police through educational materials tailored to specific communities and translated into appropriate languages.