March 19, 2013
Justice graduate students Heather Burns (left) and Lindsie Gillon (right)
supported Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) in
their community outreach efforts. Working under the direction of Professor Stephen
Rice, they compiled and reported on data from hundreds of participants in
community meetings throughout the city. Their
reports, which were released in February, focused on the Seattle community
as a whole and separately on immigrant and refugee communities.
SPD came under scrutiny by the Department of Justice. To address Department of
Justice concerns, the City of Seattle developed a plan of initiatives for SPD.
20/20: A Vision for the Future,” is a set of 20 initiatives. Implementation
is taking place over 20 months. Initiative 19, “Launch a Community Outreach
Effort,” resulted in meetings among in every precinct in the city.
were approached by the Mayor’s Office to help with thousands of statements
gathered during community outreach meetings,” Rice said. “The students took
classroom analytic skills and put them into practice in a high-profile,
Burns and Gillon analyzed raw data from the hundreds
of the participants and created reports that divided the analyses into five
categories: top concerns about public safety, what can communities and the
police do together to create safer communities, what is going well between the
community and SPD, what needs to improve, and what steps can be taken to keep
the community engaged in the process of creating safer communities. The reports
are on the SPD website.
“The citizens as a whole showed support for
SPD,” Gillon said. “I was excited to have this opportunity to build
relationships with SPD and the City, especially since the police have had such a
high profile in the media.”
Burns was surprised at the findings: “Of the
thousands of comments gathered at the meetings, only a handful were about race
or use of force.”
Burns, is finishing her master’s thesis, works for the
Washington State Patrol as support staff in the Criminal Investigations
Division. Gillon, who graduates in June and has had experience with the federal
government’s NW High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area federal program, plans to
continue to work at the federal level.
The College of Arts and Sciences, the
largest college in Seattle University, offers 42
undergraduate majors, 37 minors, and 7 master's degrees,
including an M.A.
in Criminal Justice.
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