City Attorney Ann Davison announced the launch of a new High Utilizer Initiative. The program will identify individuals responsible for repeat criminal activity across the City of Seattle and aims to dramatically reduce their public safety impacts. To ensure these individuals have access to critical social safety programs, the City Attorney’s Office will prioritize the cases of High Utilizers and work in coordination with public safety partners and service providers.
“I am committed to rebuilding our City’s accountability system. Through our High Utilizer Initiative, we will directly address the individuals who create a disproportionate impact on public safety in Seattle. I will coordinate closely with the Seattle Police Department, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, and the King County Jail to disrupt the cycle of crime for these individuals,” said City Attorney Ann Davison. “High-utilizers have fallen through the cracks of our social safety net and criminal justice system and cannot be ignored. My office will prioritize these cases and continue to advocate for both accountability and behavioral health and substance use interventions to help stop the cycle of addiction, crime, and human suffering we are seeing on our streets.”
The High Utilizer Initiative has identified 118 individuals who have been responsible for over 2,400 criminal cases over the past five years. Each of these individuals has twelve or more referrals from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to the City Attorney’s Office in the past 5 years and at least one case referred in the past 8 months. Most of the charges in cases referred to the City Attorney’s Office involving High Utilizers were theft (1,019 charges), trespassing (589 charges), assault (409 charges), or weapons violations (101 charges). (Some cases involve multiple charges). Because people with a high number of domestic violence or DUI cases are already the subject of additional attention, they are not included in this initiative.
“The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is grateful for the partnership with Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison and her team, and we’re confident it will continue,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “We know that the community wants immediate action that holds prolific offenders accountable, and we’ll keep going to court each day with a focus on preserving public safety and supporting victims. The challenge for the municipal court, and for our community, is finding resources to help address the root causes of the behavioral health problems that are leading a small number of people to be frequent utilizers of the court system.”
“Seattle’s repeat criminal activity, much of it perpetrated by relatively few individuals and often out in the open on our city’s streets, not only negatively impacts our struggling businesses but also community members, neighbors, workers, and anyone who visits Seattle,” said Seattle Police Chief Adrian Z. Diaz. “I am confident the High Utilizer Initiative will not only add another layer of accountability but will also help identify those most in need of behavioral and health services.”
The goal of this initiative is to coordinate High Utilizers efforts between the City Attorney’s Office, SPD, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, King County Jail, and service providers to improve outcomes for these individuals and reduce their effects on safety in Seattle. The City Attorney’s Office will maintain the list of High Utilizers and coordinate between key stakeholders.
The High Utilizer Initiative follows in part some similar recommendations made by the 2019 High Barrier Individuals Working Group (HBIWG), organized by Seattle and King County.