During the defund the Police movement in Seattle a few years ago, an idea sprang up that has not gone away.

Seattle still hiring social workers for 911 call program

As reported by Jason Rantz at MyNorthwest.com, you probably remember various cities around the nation calling for defunding police and/or replacing them with social workers on 911 calls.

As crime worsened in Seattle, the city council has reversed its defunding efforts, even trying to offer bonuses as a recruiting tool. As of last count, in July, this year Seattle has hired 41 new offices, but 68 have left the force for a net loss of minus 17.

But one program has stuck around. MyNorthwest reports the Alternative Response Team will send citizen mental health professionals to "certain" 911 calls. The pilot program will start with six such individuals.

According to Rantz,  applicants are not required to have any background or training in the criminal justice system or self-defense. They only need one year of training on how to deal with "troubled" individuals, hands-on experience is not required.

Opponents fear the program will get social workers killed

Rantz mentioned the July 2022 fatal shooting of a King County Sheriff's Deputy, who was called to respond to the type of case these social workers would probably face. Deputy Richard Herzog responded to a report of a naked man running around and causing a disturbance blocking a road. However, the suspect, Ronald Matthews, had been smoking crack was very agitated. As Herzog tried to de-escalate the situation a struggle occurred. Herzog's firearm fell on the ground, Matthews grabbed it and shot the deputy ten times.

He also mentioned during the defund movement, a social worker was fatally stabbed in downtown Seattle, and no officer was present.

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According to Rantz, the application for the social response position includes a section where the applicant must vow to  “dismantle racist policies and procedures."

The program has been allocated at least $1.6 million and the application process is now open. 

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