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Seattle Councilwoman Who Defunded Police Calls Cops To Report Crime She’s Trying To Decriminalize

Seattle, WA – A Seattle councilmember who helped defund the city’s police department recently called law enforcement to report the same type of crime she’s been trying to legalize.

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is pushing for radical new legislation that would allow offenders to use chemical dependency, poverty, and mental illness as legal defenses.

Herbold, who is also chair of the council’s public safety committee, modeled the prospective ordinance after a draft bill created by public defenders, KTTH reported.

She slipped the proposed alteration into a budget committee meeting on Oct. 21, after the session had been underway for three hours.

The legislation has been included in the municipal budgeting process, despite the council having virtually no public discussion about the proposed ordinance, KOMO reported.

If enacted, the ordinance would essentially legalize nearly every misdemeanor offense for defendants who are able to demonstrate symptoms of a mental disorder or symptoms of an addiction – even without a medical diagnosis.

The exception would also apply in cases where the suspect claims their crime was justified due to an “immediate basic need,” such as stealing in order to get money for rent, food, or clothing, KOMO reported.

Nearly all misdemeanor offenses – with the exception of domestic violence and driving under the influence – would be eligible for potential dismissal and excusal under the new ordinance proposal.

But on Dec. 11, Herbold placed a 911 call to report the very type of offense her proposed ordinance would decriminalize, KTTH reported.

Police were dispatched to Herbold’s West Seattle residence after the city councilmember told the 911 operator someone threw a rock that hit the window of her home, according to KTTH.

She told responding officers that she “dove into the kitchen for cover” after hearing “a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot,” according to the police report.

Her neighbor said he spotted a clean-shaven, white male wearing a black hoodie and jeans running from the scene, but the witness said he wouldn’t call the officer if he spotted the suspect again, KTTH reported.

Since a “mental disorder” is defined under Washington State law as “any organic, mental, or emotional impairment which has substantial adverse effects on a person’s cognitive or volitional function,” it is quite likely that the suspect who hurled the rock at Herbold’s window could have claimed he was experiencing anxiety at the time of the defense, according to KTTH.

“There is no practical way for a prosecutor to disprove a defendant’s claim that they are experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder,” former Seattle Public Safety Advisor Scott Lindsay wrote in a white paper on the issue, KTTH reported.

Lindsay argued that the “standard to satisfy either of the two ‘symptoms of behavioral health disorder’ defenses is so low, it is euphemistic to call them defenses.”

He further noted that Herbold’s legislation would give offenders “blanket immunity from misdemeanor prosecution” for any offenses besides DUI’s and domestic violence.

“Any credible claim of anxiety, depression, trauma, or addiction would make the defendant un-prosecutable for the vast majority of crimes in the Seattle Municipal Code, no matter how many times the defendant had committed the crime or how egregious the circumstances,” Lindsay said, according to KTTH.

“I’m not aware of any legislation like this anywhere in the United States (or) even globally,” he told KOMO shortly after Herbold presented her proposal. “All cities have criminal codes to protect their citizens from criminal acts. This would essentially create a legal loophole that swallows all those codes and creates a green light for crime.”

“If you don’t feel very protected right now, this would wipe out almost all remaining protections that we have,” Lindsay added.

He noted that Herbold slipped the proposal in during a city council budget committee meeting in an attempt to “back door” normal processes, KOMO reported.

“This is a back door to get this legislation into the budget process [and] not through the normal democratic processes with transparency, dialogue, [or] public discussion,” Lindsay told the news outlet.

“This would absolutely open the floodgates for crime in Seattle, even worse than what we often currently struggle with,” he continued. “It’s basically a blank check for anybody committing theft, assault, harassment [and] trespass to continue without disruption from our criminal justice system.”

Herbold refused to respond to requests for comment, according to KTTH.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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