Creating a More Safe, Welcoming, and Equitable Lynnwood
Published on July 06, 2020
Dear Lynnwood Community Members,
As your Mayor, I am fully committed to creating a more equitable city. I am joined in this work by our City Council, our Chief of Police, and our city staff. We will continue working to integrate equity into everything that we do.
Lynnwood is a richly diverse community and the best way to honor that diversity, is to ensure that we are providing our city services in a fair and equitable way so that all people can thrive. It is our duty to serve all people of Lynnwood, and our duty to ensure that our policies, programs, and services are accessible to all and free from barriers.
On July 1st, we hosted a Race and Equity Community Listening Session which was facilitated by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Commission. This commission is helping us identify institutional barriers to accessing city services and programs and advising us on ways to provide a more inclusive approach to community engagement. The City Council, our Police Department Command Staff, and I were part of the listening audience and were joined by over 80 community members. During the session we asked our diverse community members to share with us their thoughts, feelings and concerns related to if Lynnwood was a safe, welcoming and equitable community for all. We truly appreciate those that spoke and shared their stories, and shared their suggestions for how we can do better. We will continue to host these listening sessions and smaller focus groups so that we can ensure we are hearing from all corners of Lynnwood’s diverse community.
Race and Equity Community Listening Session Panel: (top, left to right) DEI Vice Chair Jared Bigelow, DEI Commissioner Othman Riad, DEI Chair Naz Lashgari. (Middle row, left to right) Mayor Nicola Smith, Council President Christine Frizzell, Human Resources Director Evan Chinn. (Bottom row) Community Member Wally Webster.
The DEI Commission has also worked in support of the annual Step Up: Moving Racial Equity Forward Conference and leading the citywide launch of the “All Are Welcome” initiative. We’re asking all businesses and community members to help us create a welcoming and open space for all members of our community to thrive.
In addition to making our community feel safe and welcome, we have made conscious efforts to make our City government a safe and welcoming place to work. We want our city employees to reflect the great diversity of our community. We have taken steps to be more intentional with our recruitment and retention efforts. We have an internal committee called LEED - Lynnwood Employees Embracing Diversity. LEED's mission is to cultivate and promote a welcoming, safe, equitable and inclusive workplace for ALL employees. Through mutual respect and education, we will achieve our goals of embracing diversity. We are providing our city employees with trainings and other avenues of dialogue to normalize talking about race and inequities and finding solutions to create justice.
To further the goals of creating an equitable city, our city joined GARE – the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. GARE is a national organization that works with governments to help advance racial equity at the local government level, and Lynnwood was the first city in Snohomish County to become a GARE member.
Our Lynnwood GARE cohort consists of twelve employees that represent every City Department, various levels of the organization, and come from diverse backgrounds. Our team participated in an 8-month learning cohort from the Northwest, attending monthly sessions focused on building skills and strategies for the implementation of equitable government practices. The team has adopted the name Team REAL (Racial Equity Advancing Lynnwood) and learned effective approaches for building the capacity of government to eliminate institutional and structural racism and advance racial equity.
The work of Team REAL continues as we begin to apply their anti-racist learnings to policies, procedures, and projects in Lynnwood so all residents of Lynnwood can thrive.
During our listening session we heard questions about policing in our community. In 2017, the City Council and Chief of Police Tom Davis and I reaffirmed our City’s commitment to being a safe, welcoming and equitable community and adopted by Resolution 2017-03. Our work is not done. This commitment continues, and we stand with our Black community members, and those who advocate for justice for all.
Since I hired Chief Davis in 2017, our Lynnwood Police Department has thoughtfully and intentionally re-focused the department towards a community-policing model. They have forged countless relationships with our diverse community, and they continue to adhere to their core values of professionalism, vigilance, and community. I am proud of their efforts to increase the diversity of our sworn officers and increase transparency and accountability. They have taken great steps towards helping to address issues “up-stream” such as hiring an embedded social worker and a collaborative partnership with Community Health Center to reduce recidivism.
Our Officers are highly trained and receive ongoing training on important skills such as de-escalation, crisis intervention, and implicit bias. Many of our training sergeants and officers conduct statewide trainings, sharing their knowledge and expertise with law enforcement agencies throughout Washington. Our Police Department has compiled a comprehensive resource of their trainings, policies and procedures and I invite you to review this information at www.LynnwoodWA.gov/LPDCommunityResponse.
As your Mayor, I am all in. Lynnwood is all in, and that includes our Council Leadership and Chief of Police. I stand with our communities of color and all those who have been marginalized, and I commit to doing better. We’ve come a long way but recognize that there is still a long way to go. Lynnwood community members - be brave, be open to hearing stories, ideas and new perspectives from people of color and those who are marginalized. Help others by creating a safe environment for honest and open dialogue. And think about what you can do, to move equity and justice forward. We are all in this together.
We want to hear from you. Please visit www.LynnwoodWA.gov/SafeandWelcoming and learn more about the programs and initiatives we’ve implemented, and then leave us your feedback on how we can move racial equity forward in Lynnwood.
Mayor Nicola Smith