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Platform for Change 2.0

NOTE:
We’ve been going through a long process collecting community input for this document. This journey has included many community town hall meetings and coordination with dozens of key stakeholders. We are seeking continual input and will be revising this living document through a public process here on our website thorughout 2024.

Please provide as much input as possible by May 31, 2024. This document will continue to receive community updates and changes, but we are prepping for a print run and would love to make sure it represents the community as accurately as possible.
Introduction

The Platform for Change 2.0 represents a watershed moment in our community’s journey toward a fairer, more equitable society. After extensive consultation, including numerous town hall meetings and collaboration with a broad spectrum of stakeholders across the community, we’ve refined our vision to address the critical issues facing Spokane today. This document is a blueprint for transformative justice, outlining concrete steps to reform our criminal legal system, reimagine policing, and reinvest in the pillars of our community: housing, health services, and youth support.

Our approach to justice reform emphasizes restorative policies over punitive measures, aiming to rectify the disproportionate impact on BIPOC and impoverished individuals. From eliminating cash bail to rethinking drug possession laws and investing in public health initiatives, we advocate for healing-centered solutions.

Policing reform is central to our platform, calling for enhanced accountability, oversight, and a cultural shift within the Spokane Police Department. This includes acknowledging past shortcomings, revising internal processes, ending qualified immunity, and fostering a culture of responsibility and trust.

Finally, our investment in community focuses on recognizing housing as a human right, ensuring universal healthcare access, and supporting our youth through education and early intervention. We believe these efforts are essential for a thriving society and the well-being of all its members.

As we present the “Platform for Change 2.0,” we invite every member of our community to join us in this ambitious endeavor. Together, we can build a future that honors the dignity of every individual and lays the foundation for lasting change.

 


Justice Reforms

We urgently need to adopt effective, restorative policy solutions that are driven by the need to improve equity for those impacted by our criminal legal system with a focus on holistic, non-jail solutions.

To achieve equitable reform in our criminal legal system, the following areas need change:

  1. Pretrial
    Reducing pretrial harms that are disproportionately inflicted on BIPOC and poor people by eliminating cash bail, focusing on alternatives to jail, and reducing required court dates.

    1. Decriminalize Poverty
      Adopt policies to stop criminalizing homelessness, addiction, and poverty-related offenses, emphasizing community support and intervention over punitive actions for poverty-driven offenses.
    2. End Prosecutorial Overcharging
      Enforce guidelines and oversight mechanisms to ensure charging decisions are fair and proportional, reducing excessive charges that disproportionately impact BIPOC and low-income individuals.
    3. Abolish Cash Bail
      Eliminate cash bail and develop alternative pretrial release programs that assess an individual’s risk and needs, not their financial capacity, ensuring pretrial detention is not determined by ability to pay.
    4. Provide Alternatives to Jail
      Expand access to non-jail alternatives like diversion programs, restorative justice, and community service, while supporting the creation and funding of rehabilitation and reintegration programs that tackle the root causes of criminal behavior, including substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and job training.
    5. Reduce Required Court Dates
      Simplify the pretrial process by reducing mandatory court appearances and implementing virtual proceedings where possible, easing the burden on defendants and enhancing court system efficiency and accessibility.
  2. Trial Services
    Access to comprehensive services and robust legal representation is crucial for equitable outcomes in the criminal legal system. Disparities in trial outcomes are often rooted in discrimination—both before and during trials—and a lack of funding. Strategies to address discrimination and ensure fair representation:

    1. Fund Public Defenders
      Fully staff and fund the public defender’s office to ensure everyone, regardless of their financial status, receives competent legal defense. This is vital to counteract the effects of overcharging by the prosecutor’s office and prevent unjust incarceration or the receipt of inadequate trial services.
    2. Implement Racial Equity Lens in County Prosecutor’s Office
      Introduce policies and practices that address and correct racial disparities in charging and sentencing. This includes reviewing and adjusting policies that lead to overcharging, particularly those disproportionately affecting BIPOC individuals, to mitigate their adverse impacts.
    3. Ensure Judicial Accountability
      Publish sentencing data by judge, including demographic information of defendants such as race and gender, to highlight and address any racial sentencing disparities. Commit to ending practices that result in harsh and disproportionate sentences, aligning sentencing with the principles of justice and rehabilitation.
    4. Training and Development
      Enhance training programs for public defenders and prosecutors to include cultural competency, understanding of systemic biases, and the implementation of equitable legal practices.
    5. Community Involvement
      Establish forums for community feedback and involvement in justice reform efforts. This can include advisory boards or committees composed of community members, legal experts, and social justice advocates to review and recommend reforms in trial practices and policies.
  3. Post Trial
    Post-trial, the loss of connection to community, employment, and housing significantly hampers reintegration for those who have been incarcerated. To address these challenges and facilitate a healthier reentry into society, the following measures are crucial:

    1. Wraparound Services
      Offer extensive support services that address the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological needs of individuals both during and after incarceration. This holistic approach is essential for successful reentry and reintegration into the community.
    2. Restorative Justice Expansion
      Enhance and broaden restorative justice practices focused on mending relationships and fostering responsibility and respect. Such practices have been shown to reduce recidivism and aid in the reintegration process by addressing the harm caused by incarceration.
    3. Civil Rights and Equity Office
      Ensure full funding for an Office of Civil Rights, Equity, and Inclusion tasked with handling civil rights complaints, assessing the city’s equity efforts, and providing necessary training. This office plays a pivotal role in ensuring that post-trial processes and reintegration efforts are conducted with fairness and respect for all individuals’ rights.
    4. Community Reintegration Programs
      Develop and support programs aimed at easing the transition from incarceration back into society. This includes job training, housing assistance, and mental health services tailored to the needs of those reentering the community.
    5. Policy Reform
      Advocate for policy changes that reduce barriers to reentry, such as expunging criminal records for non-violent offenses and creating more accessible pathways to employment, education, and housing for formerly incarcerated individuals.
    6. Engagement and Education
      Promote community engagement and education about the challenges faced by individuals post-incarceration. Understanding and support from the community are critical for successful reintegration.

By prioritizing these areas, Spokane can move towards a more compassionate and effective approach to justice that focuses on healing and rehabilitation rather than punishment alone. This shift is crucial for addressing the root causes of crime and ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity for a fulfilling life post-incarceration.


Police Reforms

We propose a comprehensive approach to redefine and invigorate public safety within our community. Built upon three core pillars—Accountability, Oversight, and Culture—this strategy reflects our collective commitment to establishing trust, fairness, and safety for all.

  1. Enhance Accountability
    Police accountability is essential for upholding community trust and safety. Regrettably, the Spokane Police Department (SPD) has a history of retaining problematic officers and resisting accountability. To reinforce police accountability, the following steps are crucial:

    1. Acknowledge the Issue
      The Spokane Police Department must openly acknowledge the challenges it faces. In 2024 SPD became the 2nd deadliest police force in the nation and has ongoing “Demeanor Complaints,” indicating disrespect towards citizens. Officers with records of dishonesty and violence continue to be employed. Addressing these realities directly is imperative to restore public trust.
    2. Revise Early Warning System
      Revamp the “Officer-Early-Warning-System” by adopting best practices of departments with more successful models.
    3. Standardize Discipline Matrix
      Create a consistent disciplinary framework for various offenses to ensure equitable treatment of officers.
    4. Address Problematic Officers
      Enforce strict measures for officers found to be dishonest and reassess those involved in multiple instances of violence or abuse.
    5. Implement Sexual Harassment Training
      Institute mandatory and regular sexual harassment and violence training, conducted by reputable organizations, for all personnel.
    6. Initiate Random Drug & Psychological Testing
      Introduce random testing to monitor officer well-being and emotional health.
    7. Reinstate Public Access to IA Files
      Restore online access to complete Internal Affairs Investigation files to enhance transparency and accountability.
    8. Eliminate Qualified Immunity
      Remove qualified immunity for officers to ensure accountability for their actions.
  2. Ensure Transparent Oversight
    The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) delineates 13 principles for effective civilian oversight, encompassing independence, record access, and community engagement. Spokane can adopt this framework to enhance transparency and efficacy in our system:

    1. Independence
      Preserve structural, political, and operational independence. The Office of Police Ombudsman (OPO) in Spokane faces challenges due to budget control by the mayor and city council, impacting its operational autonomy.
    2. Clearly Define Jurisdiction and Authority
      Establish precise jurisdiction, legislation, and authority. Existing collective bargaining agreements and municipal code have restricted the OPO’s authority granted by the City Charter, hampering its scope.
    3. Unrestricted Access to Records and Facilities
      Ensure unobstructed access to police records and systems. Current access to police records and systems remains limited despite access to the police facility and complaint database.
    4. Access to Law Enforcement Executives and Internal Affairs Staff
      Facilitate effective communication with Internal Affairs (IA) for better cooperation. While the OPO maintains communication with IA staff, the relationship with the chief fluctuates based on community-police dynamics.
    5. Full Cooperation
      Enable full cooperation by granting the OPO the power to compel testimony in independent investigations through subpoena power.
    6. Sustain Stakeholder Support
      Maintain regular engagement with stakeholders, community groups, officials, law enforcement, and media to garner continued support.
    7. Allocate Adequate Funding and Operational Resources
      Resolve budget-related limitations controlled by the mayor and city council to empower the OPO.
    8. Promote Public Reporting and Transparency
      Enhance transparency by allowing the OPO’s independent voice to shine through in reports.
    9. Analyze Policy and Patterns in Practice
      Strengthen the auditing function for recommendation implementation based on Closing Reports and SPD’s responses.
    10. Promote Community Outreach
      Secure funding for dedicated staff for outreach purposes, especially during high-profile incidents.
    11. Encourage Community Involvement
      Engage the community in shaping civilian oversight, fostering a system aligned with local needs.
    12. Guarantee Confidentiality, Anonymity, and Protection
      Enhance procedures to maintain anonymity of complainants and improve protection from retaliation.
    13. Uphold Procedural Justice and Legitimacy
      Promote objectivity in the OPO by advocating factual information and encourage police department support for the OPO office.
  3. Foster a New Policing Culture
    The culture within the Spokane Police Department profoundly influences officer-community interactions. Transforming the culture to prioritize community-centered approaches and diminish reliance on punitive measures is crucial for an improved police department.

    1. Embrace Transformation
      Completely commit the department to reimagining policing through innovative strategies aligned with community needs.
    2. Prevent the Unwarranted Subjugation of Personhood
      Prevent unjust and unnecessary infringement upon an individual’s inherent rights and dignity. This principle mandates that law enforcement officers respect the personhood of every individual they encounter, treating them with fairness, empathy, and unbiased consideration.
    3. Prioritize Community-Centric Training
      Integrate comprehensive training that emphasizes community engagement, conflict resolution, and de-escalation techniques. Include modules on cultural sensitivity, implicit bias, and effective communication with diverse populations.
    4. Revise Performance Metrics
      Adjust performance evaluation criteria to emphasize positive community interactions, problem-solving initiatives, and non-arrest resolutions.
    5. Enforce Leadership Accountability
      Hold leadership responsible for fostering a community-focused culture. Promote supervisors who advocate for community engagement and model empathetic leadership.
    6. Implement Peer Intervention Programs
      Empower officers to intervene against misconduct or excessive force among colleagues. Recognize officers who prevent harm and uphold department values.
    7. Incorporate Cultural Humility and Culturally Responsive Practices
      Enhance the department’s core values, training, and operations by embedding cultural humility and culturally responsive practices. Align with the state-mandated training for law enforcement as detailed in WAC 139-11-020, ensuring compliance and accountability in the completion of such training.
    8. Encourage Collaborative Problem Solving
      Promote collaboration between officers, community members, social workers, and organizations to address root causes of crime.
    9. Mandate Regular Community Interaction
      Require routine community engagement events to build trust and familiarity.
    10. Promote Diversified Hiring and Representation
      Actively recruit officers representing the community’s diversity and establish mentorship programs for underrepresented officers.
    11. Reevaluate Use of Force Policies
      Review and update use of force policies to emphasize de-escalation and proportionate responses, aligning with WAC 139-11-020. Additionally, ensure robust mechanisms for the investigation and prosecution of unjustified police use of force, as outlined in WAC 139-12, to maintain accountability and uphold justice.
    12. Reward Positive Community Interactions
      Implement recognition programs for officers excelling in community engagement and problem-solving.
    13. Enable Feedback Channels
      Create anonymous channels for officer input on department practices and community-centered improvements.
    14. Strengthen Community Policing Units
      Develop specialized units dedicated to community policing.
    15. Partner with Social Services
      Collaborate with social workers and mental health professionals for joint responses to crisis calls.
    16. Support Ongoing Professional Development
      Offer continuous training to reinforce the community-focused mindset.
    17. Facilitate Open Dialogue
      Establish forums for officers to discuss policing concerns with community members and learn from feedback.

Transforming police culture requires dedication and persistence. By addressing these demands, the Spokane Police Department can shift towards a culture that prioritizes empathy, collaboration, and proactive community-based strategies while reducing reliance on punitive methods.


Invest in Community

We propose a comprehensive approach to reinvest and encourage growth within our community, built upon expanded core pillars—Housing, Health Services, Youth, Economic Development, Environmental Sustainability, Digital Inclusion, Cultural Enrichment, Food Security, and Transportation. This strategy reflects our collective commitment to investing in ourselves, the future generation, and society, aiming to foster an inclusive, sustainable, and thriving community.

  1. Housing as a Human Right
    The stability that guaranteed housing provides is essential both for a thriving society and to provide the security needed to actively engage with health services. To combat homelessness and housing instability:

    1. Increase Homeless Services
      Develop more sustainable, low-barrier shelter options that connect homeless individuals with permanent housing solutions and community resources.
    2. Enhance Tenant Protections
      Declare housing a human right, reverse discriminatory housing policies like redlining, and provide equitable, quality housing for all.
  2. Health Services – Physical, Mental, Behavioral, Emergent
    By healing the bodies and minds of all residents, Spokane can transform to a thriving society of healthy, capable, active citizens. To address our growing health crisis and ensure a healthy, dynamic society, we will:

    1. Mental and Behavioral Health Services
      Invest in decolonized mental health services and diversion programs, including crisis care, long-term in-patient, and out-patient care.
    2. Physical Health Services
      Institute universal healthcare with a focus on affordable prevention.
    3. Emergency Services
      Train first responders to handle incidents involving mental illness, substance abuse, and other issues not suited to a police response.
    4. Addiction Recovery
      Treat addiction—a mental disease— with appropriate chemical addiction treatment centering the dignity of the person with addiction.
    5. Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence Intervention
      Abuse is a complex cycle that requires both therapists and healthcare professionals working toward preventing abuse through education, creating safe environments for discussion, and mitigating further abuse by addressing root causes and adequate referrals to further professional care.
  3. Children, Youth and Young Adults
    Early remedies are the most effective tool in preemptively addressing obstacles children face in becoming healthy, capable, and productive adults. To support Spokane’s youth, the following are essential:

    1. Early Childhood Intervention
      Ensure a child benefit payments program that provides monthly allowances, quality childcare, and therapy in order to support parents.
    2. Public Schools and Enrichment / Extra Curricular Programs
      Improve teacher-to-student ratios and counselor-to-student ratios to provide hands-on, project-based, and personalized learning opportunities-programs that engage different kinds of learners and kids with different interests and needs. Invest in professional development and resources for teachers to infuse ethnic studies in the curriculum across subjects and to implement culturally responsive/sustainable and trauma-responsive pedagogy
    3. Higher Education
      Eliminate all fees and tuition for undergraduates at public colleges and universities as an investment that will benefit society. Invest in academic and student support services to close equity gaps in student retention and graduation rates.
    4. Remove Police from Local Public Schools
      End any contracts between Law Enforcement Agencies and local schools and stop criminally charging youth for incidents that merit school discipline, trapping them early in the criminal legal system.
  4. Economic Development and Job Creation
    1. Supporting Local Businesses
      Provide resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive.
    2. Promoting Skill Development
      Offer vocational training programs aligned with current and future job markets, including sustainable industries.
  5. Environmental Sustainability and Green Spaces
    Enhance our community’s sustainability and access to nature by:

    1. Investing in Green Infrastructure
      Support renewable energy projects and sustainable urban planning.
    2. Expanding Green Spaces
      Develop public parks and community gardens to improve community health and wellbeing.
  6. Digital Inclusion and Access to Technology
    Bridge the digital divide through:

    1. Ensuring Broadband Access
      Provide universal high-speed internet access to all residents.
    2. Improving Digital Literacy
      Implement programs that enhance digital skills across all age groups.
  7. Cultural and Community Centers
    Celebrate diversity and foster community engagement by:

    1. Supporting Cultural Programs
      Invest in cultural centers that preserve and celebrate diverse heritages.
    2. Creating Community Hubs
      Establish multifunctional community centers for social, educational, and recreational activities.
  8. Food Security
    Address food insecurity and promote sustainability by:

    1. Support Community Food Programs
      Enhance access to food banks, school meals, and community kitchens.
    2. Promoting Urban Agriculture
      Encourage local food production through community gardening and urban farming initiatives.
  9. Comprehensive Transportation Solutions
    Improve mobility and access by:

    1. Enhancing Public Transportation:
      Invest in an affordable, efficient public transit system.
    2. Making Streets Safe and Accessible:
      Implement policies that ensure safe, accessible transportation options for all, including pedestrians and cyclists.

By embracing these expanded pillars, Spokane can build a resilient, inclusive, and vibrant community, ensuring that all residents have the opportunity to thrive.


 

The Path Forward for a Renewed Spokane

In our journey toward a fairer Spokane, we call on our systems of power to commit to transformative actions that embody the collective will and needs of our community. Here are our consolidated demands to ensure the realization of the Platform for Change 2.0:

Implement a Detailed Roadmap
We demand the development of a clear and comprehensive roadmap for change, complete with defined timelines, responsibilities, and metrics for success. This roadmap must prioritize immediate actions and long-term goals, ensuring accountability at every step.

Foster Deep Community Engagement
Systems of power must actively engage with and listen to the community, moving beyond initial consultations to establish ongoing, dynamic partnerships. This includes creating spaces for continuous feedback and co-creation with all community members.

Commit to Transparency and Data-Driven Approaches
We require a commitment to transparency, with regular publication of data and metrics that track the progress and impact of reforms. This transparency is crucial for building trust and facilitating informed, data-driven adjustments to our strategies.

Secure Sustainable Funding
We call for clear funding strategies for all proposed initiatives, exploring diverse funding mechanisms, and ensuring the financial sustainability of reforms. This includes seeking partnerships and grants to support our vision.

Expand Collaborative Partnerships
We urge the forging of partnerships beyond our immediate community with regional, state, and federal entities, as well as non-profits and academic institutions, to amplify our impact and harness a broader range of resources and expertise.

Emphasize Responsible Technology Use
We advocate for the responsible integration of technology and innovation in reform efforts, emphasizing the use of digital tools and new methods to improve public safety, health services, and community engagement. It is crucial to implement these solutions thoughtfully, with a commitment to safeguarding privacy and avoiding undue surveillance, particularly in marginalized communities.

Emphasize Resilience and Adaptability
Systems of power must embrace strategies that ensure resilience and adaptability, preparing for and responding to the evolving needs and challenges of our community, ensuring that reforms are sustainable in the long run.

Prioritize Environmental Sustainability
We insist on incorporating environmental sustainability into housing and community investment strategies, ensuring that our efforts contribute to a healthier planet and a sustainable future for all.

Empower Youth and Foster Leadership
We call for the empowerment of youth as essential contributors and leaders within our community, providing them with the platforms and resources to participate in governance, planning, and advocacy.

Implement Continuous Evaluation for Improvement
We demand the establishment of a continuous evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness of reforms, enabling iterative improvements and ensuring that our efforts remain aligned with the community’s needs.

By uniting around these demands, we call on our leaders and institutions to take decisive action, ensuring that our collective vision for Spokane becomes a reality. Through shared commitment and collaborative effort, we can build a community that truly reflects the principles of equity, resilience, and sustainability.

Committed to your future,
Spokane Community Against Racism