At our December 2019 meeting, the new Seattle Police Department Community Service Officer (CSO) program gave their first-ever public presentation and answered questions from the community. Video is available.
Sergeant Kevin Nelson was joined by CSO supervisor Christopher Inaba and newly hired members of the CSO team. Seattle Community Service Officers are unarmed, noncommissioned officers who will help respond to noncriminal police calls and help connect people with social services. The program operated in Seattle for 33 years until it was cut from the budget in 2004. The CSO uniform and vehicle style (still to be unveiled) will be clearly distinguishable from traditional police officers. CSOs will begin working in communities beginning in early 2020.
The CSO employees who spoke at the meeting represented an impressive range of experiences and backgrounds, including Downtown Seattle Association ambassador program supervisor; union worker; parking enforcement officer from the RV remediation team; Mary’s Place youth outreach; security officer for Swedish Medical Center and Seattle Public Library as well as football/basketball/baseball coach; and a criminal justice graduate with lengthy experience working for community court program, Department of Corrections, and municipal court probation (with a focus on connecting people to community college programs). All expressed a strong commitment to serving community and collaborating to further define the CSO program.
By March 2020, the CSO program is planned to include three teams of 5 officers and 1 supervisor each. It has funding to expand as the year unfolds. They welcome inquiries from other community groups around the city.
Here is a flyer that was handed out at the meeting: