Safe Passage in Rainier Beach
Last Sunday, our Safe Passage program was highlighted in the Seattle Times. Safe Passage is a highly effective community safety program run by our Southeast Network SafetyNet Team at the Joel E. Smilow Rainier Vista Teen Center.
We appreciate the Seattle Times holding the program up as an example of what effective community safety and engagement looks like.
Continue reading about the Safe Passage program!
Safe Passage is a youth violence prevention program in the Rainier Beach neighborhood that has helped reduce crime and strengthen the community by 31 percent over the past five years.
SE Network SafetyNet staff are leading an incredible partnership program around the Rainier Beach Campus, a high-traffic area that includes four schools (attended by an estimated 150 Rainier Vista Club kids), a community center, and a transit line. Since 2015, this partnership has created safe zones on school campuses and the routes that kids travel as school ends to address the higher incidents of crime in the area that are found to occur between 2 and 6PM.
The Safe Passage project is a powerful network of school personnel, parent, community, and youth volunteers, together with our SE Network team. Taking a place-based approach, Safe Passage positions a trusted member of the community along routes that children take home, helping them avoid stopping on street corners to participate in activities that could lead to trouble.
The City of Seattle Human Services Department are long-term funders of the program. In 2020, funding will move to the Department of Neighborhoods.
Safe Passage employees, affectionately called the Be Safe Bros or Blue Coats, are out in the neighborhood during peak times building relationships with youth, neighbors, and local business owners. The Bros’ consistent community presence gives young people a trusted, go-to adult in the immediate area, ensuring youth have the tools they need to stop, think, and respond calmly. The prevention-based approach focuses on supervision, community-building, and de-escalation.
The Bros establish trust with young people by investing in relationships first. Through those relationships, they gain access to youth that allows youth to listen and respect them.
According to SE Network Director Matelita Jackson, “Thanks to the Be Safe Bros, so many fights have been prevented and de-escalated.”
This is one of many initiatives in the Rainier Beach A Safe and Beautiful Place for Youth (RBASPY) collaboration, that powers innovative practices across the neighborhood. Results from Safe Passage and the entire RBASPY initiative are so successful that Mayor Jenny Durkan is interested in using it as a model in other Seattle neighborhoods.