Keeping Shoreline Safe with a new Community Court and Resource Center

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mayor Will Hall
City of Shoreline

By Will Hall, Mayor, City of Shoreline

Feeling safe is one of the most important things there is. Safety is a top priority for the Shoreline City Council. 

One of our goals is to promote and enhance the City’s safe community and neighborhood programs and initiatives.

Sometimes the criminal justice system can seem like a revolving door. A handful of people getting arrested, going to court, going to jail, getting out, and getting arrested again. 

Once the cycle begins, it can be hard to break. For non-violent offenders with mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and extreme poverty, the system doesn’t work because it doesn’t address the root causes of the criminal behavior. 

If we can intervene and provide the right assistance at the right time, we can break the cycle and make our community safer.

That’s what we’re planning to do by opening a new Community Court and Resource Center at Shoreline City Hall every Tuesday from 1:30 to 3:30pm, starting January 7.

Our new Community Court will be a problem-solving court. It differs from traditional court by identifying and addressing the underlying challenges that may contribute to criminal activity.

Other cities have already found success with this approach. Here is a review from an anonymous participant in Redmond’s Community Court:

“My experience here has saved my life. Not only am I off the drugs and staying clean by taking the healthy steps to live life clean, I also have been able to get myself back in a healthy structured living situation. Community court is the most awesome program. I am so blessed to have the honor to be a part of this program.”

Those are powerful words. The participant got things turned around, which also made the community safer and saved the city the cost of prosecuting and jailing a repeat offender.

Community Courts provide services and accountability for those who are eligible and choose to participate. An assessment identifies a participant’s challenges and strengths. That helps the Community Court determine what follow-up steps a participant needs to take, often including community service.

The new Community Court in Shoreline will be part of King County District Court. The District Court has already opened Community Courts in Redmond and Burien.

When I was at a city conference last year, I learned that Spokane opened a Community Court in 2013. In its first four years, the Spokane Community Court helped more than 1,130 individuals on cases arising out of low-level criminal violations. By stopping the criminal behavior of most of those participants, the city saved a lot of money on prosecution, defense, and jail, all while making the community safer.

An integral part of Community Court is the Community Resource Center. 

The Resource Center consists of community partners who provide a wide range of services to help court participants. Some of the types of community partners that we are recruiting to participate in Shoreline Community Court include providers such as Hopelink, DSHS, IKRON Greater Seattle, and Goodwill. The other great thing about the Community Resource Center is that it will be available to all members of the public, not just Community Court participants.

To keep everyone safe, State law mandates weapons screening in all courthouses. A Shoreline Police officer will be on duty during Community Court hours to do weapons screening. This will require using a wand to scan individuals and checking bags before entering the courtroom.

The success of Community Court and the Resource Center depends a lot on the hard work of volunteers. Volunteers help set up and take down the Resource Center; greet people; help connect people with service providers; and answer questions. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Ericka Cooley at Ericka.cooley@kingcounty.gov or 206-409-0212.

Learn more about Community Court here.



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