McFinally: McGinn Announces Plan on Public Safety

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At the press conference announcing his candidacy, Mike McGinn was asked about his plans on youth violence--and he deferred his answer to a later date. And while he subsequently put in face time at a number of criminal justice and community safety related events, and opined on how levy funding might be redirected to better combat youth violence, his plan to deal with crime was always forthcoming. Even as recently as their debate last week, his comments on public safety dealt safely in generalities. In the meantime, Joe Mallahan, who spoke mostly in soundbites about Nickels' reductions in the gang unit, picked up the Seattle Police Officers' Guild endorsement.

Today, however, McGinn released a plan--a more comprehensive and detailed one than any but maybe the one Nickels introduced in the primary (and Nickels, of course, had been actually governing). It has a heavy focus on gun violence, looking to push gun cases to federal court and try as adults juveniles accused of gun crimes. It couples that with an emphasis on prevention programs, such as job training, police outreach, prisoner re-entry, and pre- and post-arrest diversion programs for non-violent offenders, particularly those involved in drugs. (Such programs would send drug users to treatment instead of jail.) Also, in keeping with McGinn's "Government 2.0" theme, he says he'd emphasize making crime data easier to access and report, citing a Waterloo, Iowa program that lets residents text 911.

McGinn's policy borrows heavily from Nickels' (he supports the latter's youth violence prevention program and his ban on guns in parks), and it also shares with Mallahan's less-detailed proposals an emphasis on the importance of outreach by police officers. And how all these programs will be paid for remains a big question, given the city's budget deficit. But in one white paper, McGinn's gone from the question mark on public safety to the candidate with a comprehensive plan. Which means Mallahan, for all the improved command of city issues he showed in last week's debate, is once again behind McGinn in providing a concrete set of ideas for his tenure.

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