SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz announced Wednesday the police department is shifting 100 officers from specialty units to the 911 response team in an effort to cut down response times and build community engagement.
Diaz said the officers will largely come from community policing, traffic enforcement, and similar units, rather than from those focused on violent crime, sexual assault, or domestic violence. But Seattle police have not yet released the full list of which units officers will be pulled from, and sources confirmed to KING 5 one of them is the elderly abuse unit.
It would be the same unit that helped Jessica Barrett’s family get justice for her father.
“My dad was my best friend as a little girl. So, I watched that entire relationship just be ripped from me,” said Jessica Barrett.
Her father, Jeff Barrett, was hit by a drunk driver in the late 1990s and suffered a severe brain injury that left him unable to take care of himself.
“I wasn’t where I could take my dad in with me and neither was my sister, you know, I had a brand-new little guy and just wasn’t in a place. So, his attorney, without much consult from us just took him to her home,” she explained.
Barrett received a $1 million settlement as a result of his injuries.
The longer he lived with his attorney, Jessica found it harder and harder to contact her dad.
“All she was, was his attorney and somewhere in there, she saw she had enough power that she could control everything and just moved him away from the family bit-by-bit,” she said. “She saw him as a money source from day one.”
A quarter of his money was gone before the family realized what happened.
The attorney turned caretaker was convicted by a jury and Jessica thanks Seattle police’s elderly abuse unit.
“My dad needed that jury to convict her and without the police getting all the statements from people and all these different things there would have been no accountability for her other than a slap on the wrist from the courts," she said.
Jessica said she fears other victims and families won't get the justice they deserve if the elderly abuse unit suffers cuts.
“How many more families are going to continue to watch their loved ones that are incapacitated in whatever form, be just helpless, victimized by somebody?” she said. “Without this unit, there will be a lot more people, especially during COVID times that are stuck, very stuck.”
Seattle police said they are informing the officers being moved to the 911 response team before they release the full list of units impacted.