Seattle Restaurants Finding Alternatives to Calling the Cops

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Aug 12

Lewis & Laws

Seattle Restaurants Finding Alternatives to Calling the Cops

by Lewis & Laws

Seattle Restaurants Finding Alternatives to Calling the Cops

Over the last several months, there have been many talks over police use in this country and especially in Seattle. In fact, Seattle was the center of national attention when residents and protestors declared Capitol Hill an autonomous zone named CHAZ. This declaration came after weeks of tense interactions between protestors and police in full riot gear. When police boarded up and moved out of the East Precinct to de-escalate the situation, protestors and residents declared the zone to be a police free area. They demanded rent control, the reversal of gentrification, defunding of the police and releasing prisoners serving time for marijuana-related offenses.

Businesses in Seattle and residents took notice of the events as they unfolded. Talks about the role of police in society began and those conversations are continuing at a national level. Business owners have begun to have frank conversations about how to handle potential conflicts in their own establishments in the aftermath of the protests. Do they call the police or is there a better solution?

Restaurants in Seattle are often faced with this dilemma more than other types of businesses. After all, many people come to restaurants and cafés to escape domestic violence or to spend time when going through housing insecurity. People going through a mental health crisis also go to restaurants for shelter.

In the past, restaurant owners had no trouble calling 911 and alerting police to people who may be drunk, on drugs, or homeless. Now, they are trying to find alternatives to calling the cops.

Finding Alternatives to Calling the Cops

One establishment, Hood Famous Café and Bar in the Chinatown-International District is taking the lead by trying to find a solution with more empathy and understanding for the community.

The neighborhood often sees raids on homeless encampments, and police can be terrifying for those experiencing homelessness. So before calling the cops, Hood Famous decided to bring in a social worker who has more than 10 years of experience in drug and alcohol counseling and 20 years in the health and social service field.

This social worker is working with employees and management to learn best practices for de-escalating conflicts in their businesses. This training often involves confronting your own biases and racism. It also involves becoming familiar with local resources that are available in the community that might be able to actually help that individual. Calling the cops simply removes the individual from your establishment, but it does nothing to improve the problem.

Another organization, Crisis Connections, in King County is a resource hub for those who need help with financial needs, housing issues, and legal aid. They can also help someone find a local food bank or homeless shelter. Their program also includes a Crisis Line to help connect people with social workers and counselors 24/7.

Another program that exists in King County is the Downtown Emergency Service Center. They have a program called the Crisis Solutions Center. The Crisis Solutions Center has an on-call mobile team that is available 24/7 to help de-escalate situations without police help. They even have a temporary housing building with 46 beds for shelter. 

Staff members at restaurants and businesses can call these resources BEFORE calling the cops. These centers' goal is to divert individuals impacted by mental illness, homelessness, and substance abuse from jails and hospitals. They strive to place them into appropriate therapeutic alternatives. After all, many of these people need help - not jail.

One thing the protests and CHAZ has taught us is that there is an over-reliance on policing to solve problems that are not police-related. Across the United States, the talk is ongoing about how we can improve our social services to assist the community rather than police it in the same ways we have always done. Restaurants in Seattle seem to be ahead of the curve when doing this.

Contact Our Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Seattle, we can help. Our Seattle criminal defense attorneys know that many people get caught up in the criminal justice system. These people do not need jail time, they need help. That is why we are here to protect your rights and your future. We can help keep you out of jail and even get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.

The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC, have helped and defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our confidential contact form. We know how to fight criminal charges aggressively. Call us today!

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