Mayor Harrell appoints panel to address sexual assault, police reform
Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the names Thursday of six people who will form a new advisory panel to provide recommendations on how Seattle police handle sexual assault investigations.
Harrell said in a press release that the advisory panel is the next step in a process that started this summer, after he issued an executive order in July to support victims of sexual assault and enhance investigations. A KUOW and Seattle Times investigation in June reported that Seattle Police had stopped investigating sexual assaults committed against adults.
The sergeant overseeing the sexual assault and child abuse unit outlined the problems facing the unit in an internal memo last spring.
“The community expects our agency to respond to reports of sexual violence,” Sgt. Pamela St. John wrote, “and at current staffing levels that objective is unattainable.”
The Seattle Police Department has struggled to retain employees. The sexual assault and child abuse unit is now staffed with eight detectives, according to Harrell, an increase from earlier this year.
The new panel includes local stakeholders and those with expertise on the subject of sexual crimes:
- Megan Allen, Legal Advocacy Manager, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
- Michael Cervantes, Policy Manager, Seattle Indian Health Board
- George Gonzalez, Assistant Director, Harborview Abuse and Trauma Center
- Jackie Helfgott, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Forensics; Director of the Crime & Justice Research Center, Seattle University
- Sara Mooney, Pro Bono Counsel, Sexual Violence Law Center
Jennifer Wallace, Program Director – Sexual Assault, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission