New ‘High Utilizer Initiative’ aimed at addressing frequent offenders

118 people responsible for more than 2,400 criminal cases in Seattle in the past five years. That’s who the City Attorney’s Office says it’s targeting for starters, as it launches the newest attempt to address frequent offenders, called the High Utilizer Initiative. The announcement from City Attorney Ann Davison says this program will “identify individuals responsible for repeat criminal activity across the City of Seattle and aims to dramatically reduce their public safety impacts” by prioritizing their cases to “ensure they have access to critical social safety programs.” The 118 initially identified people, according to Davison’s office, were charged with “theft (1,019 charges), trespassing (589 charges), assault (409 charges), or weapons violations (101 charges).” The program won’t involve domestic violence or DUI offenders, which the announcement says “are already the subject of additional attention.” Davison is quoted as promising to “advocate for both accountability and behavioral health and substance use interventions to help stop the cycle of addiction, crime, and human suffering we are seeing on our streets.” No specifics on which “interventions,” though. The list of High Utilizers will be kept by the City Attorney’s Office, but coordination is promised with SPD, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, King County Jail, and “service providers.” This isn’t the first time the city has talked about dealing with repeat offenders, though – today’s announcement ends with the note, “The High Utilizer Initiative follows in part some similar recommendations made by the 2019 High Barrier Individuals Working Group, organized by Seattle and King County.” (More about that here.) As for whether West Seattle offenders are on the list, we’ve asked the City Attorney’s Office if any geographic information is available.

60 Replies to "New 'High Utilizer Initiative' aimed at addressing frequent offenders"

  • Brian March 15, 2022 (11:38 am)

    This makes a lot of sense.  I’m a little bit surprised that this wasn’t going on all along.  And while I hope they get the help they require, the needs of these repeat offenders come a distant second to the need to separate them from the rest of us.  

    • DH March 15, 2022 (7:34 pm)

      This is very similar to other programs that have happened here in the past. This isn’t anything new. The same barriers that kept this from working previously are still here. 

      • Jort March 15, 2022 (10:56 pm)

        One major difference between previous attempts and this attempt, however, is that there are a lot of people who want to make it look like something is “being done,” and they’ve staked a lot of their belief systems on the idea that Ann Davison is a Republican Savior meant to rescue liberalism from its good-intentioned but inevitable failures. So, whether this is judged a “success” or a “failure” is really going to be a spin/PR game as much as anything. People are heavily invested in wanting Ann Davison and Bruce Harrell to be proven right. They’ll believe crime numbers are going down even if they don’t actually go down, as long as they can still feel good that they’ve stuck it to those cuh-razy “clowncil” lib-ruhls! 

        • RDD March 16, 2022 (8:13 am)

          I mean, they already believe crime numbers have gone up, even though they’re lower than they were in 2019, and MUCH lower than they were in past decades.  But why let facts get in the way of feelings?

  • Marcus March 15, 2022 (11:46 am)

    Wow, that statistic is just mind boggling and by definition does not include the non-reportables.  This is why I voted for Ann Davidson, thank you!

  • snowskier March 15, 2022 (12:09 pm)

    The prior program states it was scheduled to begin in early 2020 so it ran into COVID before it could have an impact.  Glad that the City Attorney’s Office is taking a lead.  That’s a ton of cases for a small group of people.  Think about the impact proactively addressing these people and their issues can have on the overall system and the safety of the rest of us forced to live with their actions.

  • StopCuttingDownTrees March 15, 2022 (12:14 pm)

    A million thanks to Ann Davison!!! 409 assaults and 101 weapons violations is staggering. There’s 409+ victims of violence  in those numbers. There’s already a visible improvement downtown, especially on 3rd Avenue and around Westlake. Even though downtown remains a very dangerous place, it may become civilization again if this pace of crime-fighting continues. 

  • Jeepney March 15, 2022 (12:35 pm)

    Ann Davison is justifying her election.  

    • 1994 March 15, 2022 (7:47 pm)

      Sounds like she is doing the job she was elected to do. If she does a good job and she runs again for city attorney again she may be elected a 2nd time.

  • Jim P. March 15, 2022 (12:39 pm)

    Let’s go back to calling these people what they are: Career criminals who prey on people and society as a whole.”High Utilizers” makes it sound like they use too much Internet bandwidth.You don’t sit down with predators and ask them to stop doing bad things, you remove the threat.  “The needs of the many” and all that.  Put them someplace where they can’t hurt people while you try to sort out their “non-optimal life choices” or whatever current buzzwords get used.

  • jb March 15, 2022 (12:43 pm)

    FINALLY  some action is being taken!  Good news!

  • U. Crane March 15, 2022 (12:44 pm)

    “High Utilizer”?!? I guess we can’t just say “career criminals” anymore because somebody’s feelings might get hurt.

    • flimflam March 15, 2022 (3:49 pm)

      Seriously that is some bizarre 1984 doublespeak there!

    • Azimuth March 15, 2022 (7:39 pm)

      Get them “high utilizer” punch cards. Commit 10 crimes get the 11th free.

  • Mellow Kitty March 15, 2022 (12:55 pm)

    So, they’re going to try everything but jail time? Or am I reading this wrong? A little over 500 assault and weapons charges! I’m not one to say toss people in jail and be done with them, but seriously, over 500 assaults and weapons charges! WTAF? Where is the line drawn? When is enough, enough? 

  • flimflam March 15, 2022 (12:58 pm)

    I’m sure someone will try to argue that this isn’t a good idea…it’s pretty insane what has been allowed to happen over the last oh, ten years.

  • skeeter March 15, 2022 (12:59 pm)

    This is why Davison won.  And if she can’t get those 118 people off the streets, she will lose to someone else who will promise to.  

  • Seattlite March 15, 2022 (1:10 pm)

    Davison knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straigt line aka common sense, logical thinking which go a long way in solving problems on all levels.

  • RDD March 15, 2022 (1:29 pm)

    Yes, let’s all give Davidson credit for something that was created before her tenure!  Woo, bandwagon!

  • WS Guy March 15, 2022 (1:43 pm)

    Elections have consequences.  In this case, good ones.

  • rb March 15, 2022 (1:44 pm)

    I hope the merits of electing someone with not so radical  views will rub off to other candidates next time we have to vote for officials. All i want is common sense. This is why I voted for her even though i am not a republican. 

  • Jort March 15, 2022 (2:17 pm)

    “High utilizer.” Man, these government buzzwords are just so, so stupid. It would appear that even right-wing reactionary politicians like Ann Davison (a Republican who declared her supreme allegiance to the GOP in the midst of the former president’s first impeachment trial) are not immune to this tendency to obscure intent and meaning through bizarre, nonsensical word choices. “High utilizer.” What exactly are criminals “utilizing?” I don’t think people who commit crimes are doing so because they want to “utilize” the criminal justice system. Do we still teach English in schools? This stuff is ridiculous. I also would like to note here that  everybody seems eager and ready to preemptively congratulate Ann Davison for making an announcement. I’m sure that if, or when, this “initiative” fails to resolve Seattle’s supposed crime problems, you’ll be sure to issue your admonishments. Bruce Harrell likes to do this, too. Big Announcements. Actual resolution? Time will tell. These jobs aren’t ambassadorships. They’re hard jobs because they require difficult decisions and people who think there are simple “answers” are only fooling themselves. 

    • North Admiral March 15, 2022 (4:01 pm)

      Maybe go take a walk outside 

    • Chris K March 15, 2022 (4:16 pm)

      Jort, this was put to a vote and our side lost.  No amount of whining or stamping of feet will reverse that.  I am willing to give her a chance.  I think this is actually a good approach that hopefully does not result in more people getting thrown into the vicious prison cycle.

      • Jort March 15, 2022 (6:40 pm)

        I agree. She won! I just hope she finds more success with her “initiative” than she apparently has with the English language. I’m going to go take a high utilization walk right now. 

        • Bronson March 16, 2022 (7:24 am)

          Hey Jort – you even stop to think that this verbiage is likely coming from “your side” so as not to call these people what they actually are, which is career criminals? Even the talk about social safety programs is just more PC nonsense.  The right is not known for its PC language for certain. The justice system isn’t for reform; it’s for punishment for crime, justice for the victim, and making the public safe from those who would do harm in whatever form.  These career criminals need to be put in jail first. Make programs available while there, but people have to choose to change and I highly doubt most of these will do so. As for your statement about “supposed crime problems,” you once again seem to revel in ignoring the reality around you (car utility and need, bike non-utility for most), or, maybe you don’t in fact live here and have been trolling us all on the blog for the past however many years. 

    • My two cents March 15, 2022 (7:34 pm)

      Jort – you can also take the use of the phrase as indicative of the overall utilization of criminal and social services resulting from a crime/infraction. 

    • Roms March 15, 2022 (8:06 pm)

      You’re cute when you say “Seattle’s supposed crime problems” 😂

  • Derek March 15, 2022 (2:43 pm)

    Yes fill up our jails with more poor and keep oppressing them outside and inside. Ann Davison is a joke. When is the next election? 

    • LivesInWS March 15, 2022 (3:48 pm)

      “Yes fill up our jails with more poor and keep oppressing them outside and inside”Poverty can’t excuse them — There are plenty of poor people who don’t commit crimes.

    • Jeepney March 15, 2022 (4:12 pm)

      Derek, why would you assume that these criminals are poor? 

      • rocket March 15, 2022 (10:15 pm)

        Because Microsoft executives are known to shoplift from Target.

        • Roms March 16, 2022 (9:35 am)

          You guys really have a binary view of the world… Reality check: The world is not binary 🤯

    • skeeter March 15, 2022 (4:22 pm)

      Derek – just curious – what would you do with these 118 people who have been charged with 2,400 crimes?  Also curious if you have ever been the victim of assault?   “The 118 initially identified people, according to Davison’s office, were charged with “theft (1,019 charges), trespassing (589 charges), assault (409 charges), or weapons violations (101 charges).”

    • Pedro March 15, 2022 (4:35 pm)

      Derek – these career criminals are the oppressors. 

    • Walker March 15, 2022 (5:46 pm)

      You saw the part about assaults and weapons violations, right?

    • WSREZZZ March 16, 2022 (1:37 pm)

      I knew you’d b here, Derek (R!)

  • opine March 15, 2022 (2:55 pm)

    Great that chronic criminals are being identified and especially good to hear of efforts to help and rehabilitate when possible, solve issues at a deeper and humanistic level, rather than just remove-punish-repeat treatment which clearly doesn’t work effectively. Help others, help yourselves/society.

    But, have to say, regarding some commentary regarding criminals in such discussions, some ‘doth protest a bit too much, me thinks.’

  • Neighbor March 15, 2022 (2:55 pm)

    What’s the total number of criminal cases in Seattle over the last 5 years? I’m curious what percentage the 2,400 is of the total. Do those 118 people account for 5% of all cases? 10%? More? Obviously a reduction of that many criminal cases would be huge, but the percentage of total would help understand the scale. 

  • Alex March 15, 2022 (3:02 pm)

    Ms. Davidson’s opponent ran on Defund the Police and stopping the prosecution of misdemeanors.   The fact that she got 40% of the vote says a lot – voters were not paying attention, voters agreed with that philosophy or voters just couldn’t stand to vote for a Republican.    Ann Davidson is off to a great start.    These numbers are frustrating for the victims and the taxpayers.

  • Mark32 March 15, 2022 (3:24 pm)

    What ever happened to Three Strikes Your Out?

    • WSB March 15, 2022 (3:42 pm)

      These types of crimes are not “strike” offenses. If they’re going through the City Attorney, they’re not even felonies.

  • John Q Lincoln March 15, 2022 (4:51 pm)

    Despite the goofy name, this sounds like a common sense approach.  We need more of this from our elected officials.

  • Thomas A Wood March 15, 2022 (4:52 pm)

    Derek you always offer opinions ! But you never offer solutions.

  • MJ March 15, 2022 (5:49 pm)

    Derek – my old man, a religious minority, grew up dirt poor on the wrong side of the railroad tracks and never resorted to stealing from others. 

    Stop your tired rhetoric about oppression of the poor, being poor is not an excuse for stealing or vandelism!  

    • Peter S. March 15, 2022 (8:33 pm)

      +1.  I got slammed pretty good on this blog a couple of weeks ago for taking a shot at those who try to excuse dangerous and violent criminal behavior under the guise of “vibrancy and diversity”.  for which I was called a “scary” racist, of which I am neither.  I didn’t bother to respond as it would’ve been a waste of energy, anyway.  I guess it’s hard for some to accept that it’s possible to embrace diversity AND be opposed to unfettered crime at the same time.

      • WS Res March 16, 2022 (9:33 am)

        I got slammed pretty good on this blog a couple of weeks ago for taking a shot at those who try to excuse dangerous and violent criminal behavior under the guise of “vibrancy and diversity”.  for which I was called a “scary” racist – You got called out on your dog-whistle because literally nobody tries to “excuse dangerous and violent criminal behavior under the guise of vibrancy and diversity.”  Vibrancy and diversity are words used when talking about having a community that isn’t exclusively made up of well-off white people, and it’s not people who celebrate that who equate it with crime and violence.

    • Walker March 15, 2022 (9:06 pm)

      +1 for sure. I’m tired of the criminal apologists. Crime is crime, no matter who commits it.

      • She's a witch! March 16, 2022 (7:14 pm)
        • Welp, thanks for simplifying things. Guess we don’t need police or a judicial system. Crime is crime. Time to revert back to public stonings and hangings!
        • Walker March 18, 2022 (6:43 am)

          Your words, not mine.

        • Walker March 18, 2022 (6:53 am)

          I also find it interesting that some people really do want to have a two-tiered justice system: one level is all of us, and on the other is everyone classified as “poor” who can do whatever they want with no consequences. Switch out the word “poor” with “rich” and we’d be having an entirely different conversation.

          • mermaid March 21, 2022 (9:05 am)

            Imagine a vast sea.

            A sea we will call life.

            Now imagine two different swimmers.

            Both are expected to swim in this vast sea and survive.

            There are some laws and expectations and some things you are told are crimes with associated punishments, that must be adhered to while you swim.

            Mind you, neither has chosen to swim this vast sea, they are being thrown in.

            Also, the two swimmers have many differences.

            The first swimmer, has had many more advantages. They were born healthy, into a healthy, wealthy, and functional family. They had many opportunities, including being taught about fitness, healthy food access, medical care, and they not only were taught how to swim, but went on to become a champion swimmer. They have had many resources available, are confident, fairly comfortable, and if anything goes wrong, they have support boats available to help save them.

            The second swimmer, has had the opposite experience, across the board.  They were born prematurely, with health issues, into a family of poverty, with numerous functional issues.  They were not taught about fitness, did not have regular access to healthy food, never learned properly to swim, also at some point they suffered some injuries and have some physical disabilities. All of this has caused trauma, and a lack of confidence and comfort.  Due to their family and circumstances, experiences, and lack of opportunities, they now find themselves without a support boat or hope for rescue, on their own on the shore of this ocean.

            Now, both of these swimmers are thrown into the sea and expected to swim and survive, and must be held to the same rules, and accountable to the same punishments if any rules are broken. 

            The first swimmer says, ‘no problem, I got this!’ Knowing, that if they don’t, they have help to rescue them.

            The second swimmer, says ‘okay, I’ve got this! I will try my best!’ Knowing that, their odds are not strong,  and if they don’t succeed or run into trouble, they don’t have help to rescue them. But they are a person of good character, and go forth and try their best to survive alongside the other swimmer.

            Now they are both in the water.

            The first swimmer quickly advances well ahead of the second swimmer.  Occasionally, his support boat rushes in to offer needed help, water, food, the edge of the boat for a moments rest.
            The second swimmer quickly tires, and then becomes extremely fearful, not having the access to support, and essential needs to survive.  Driven by an instinct to live, and not having access to the support or resources he needs, not seeing any help in sight, he is faced with decisions to drown or possibly break some laws along the way, to survive.

            On top of this, both swimmers are expected to pay taxes along the way. 

            In order to pay taxes, you have to earn money by meeting certain goals and earning money along the way.  

            As you might imagine, the first swimmer meets all the goals and makes enough money to pay his taxes.

            The second swimmer, struggling to survive, isn’t meeting many of the goals, and therefore is unable to pay his share of taxes. Because of this, he now has law enforcement after him, and a band of vigilantes are harassing and throwing rocks at him, making it all the harder.


            If you were the second swimmer, on the verge of drowning, with no support in sight, starving, and some illegal help was within reach (perhaps some food, or a boat that isn’t yours), can you imagine possibly feeling you have no choice but to break those rules? 

            And how would you feel about being held to and punishments for expectations that have not been possible to meet.

            The first swimmer makes it all the way.

            What do you think happens to the second swimmer? 


            In knowing now what we know now, should the second swimmer have been held to the same expectations, judgements, and punishments as the first swimmer?  

            Was it ever fair that they were both thrown into the same sea, without equitable circumstances?

            Is there a way the second swimmer could have been better helped to have a more fair chance at survival and success?

            The second swimmer had heard from the first swimmers camp, that there was ‘help and resources’ somewhere out there, but they never appeared, or were found, or came through, or were enough, or were what they truly needed.


            Those with lives most resembling the first swimmer, have very little experience or understanding to be able to relate to the second swimmer.  

            Those with lives most resembling the second swimmer, have very little experience or understanding to be able to relate to the first swimmer.

            And then there are many swimmers whose lives resemble a mix of these swimmers lives and experiences, and may have more understanding to extend, on both sides..

            Please try to see, those voicing concern for others challenges and longing to help make the world more equitable and safe and compassionate place, aren’t evil people who think crime is okay.  They have just come to more understanding and empathy for the second swimmers. Perhaps because of their life own experience, or connections with others, or through chosen concerted efforts (curiosity, outreach, volunteering, work) have more understanding.


            Keep swimming.

  • Jason March 16, 2022 (12:09 am)

    I think that programs are ok for non-violent offenses, but I think it is long past time to get very serious about violent offenses. I believe that our jails should be reserved for violent offenders. Repeat assaults without weapons should carry a least a year of jail time, and possibly more considering the severity of the assaults. Assaults with lethal weapons should carry a minimum 10 year jail sentence. Homicide or murders should carry a minimum life sentence. Enough is enough.

    • Ivan Weiss March 16, 2022 (7:18 am)

      “Enough is enough,” they cry. “Lock ’em up and throw away the key,” they say. Then when the cost of the carceral state mounts to the point where taxes have to be raised to cover other, more vital services, like education, public health, and transportation, the “lock ’em up” crowd is the first to threaten “taxpayer revolts” and form “Tea Parties.” All they know is punish, punish, punish. And does it work? Has it worked? Will it continue to work? Hell no! Enough is enough.

      • WS Res March 16, 2022 (9:43 am)

        Hear, hear.

        Let’s remember that “violent offenses” can include pushing someone or pulling away from the grasp of a security officer (as well as yes, more violent actions like hitting or injuring someone) and “weapons offenses” can include carrying a folding or box knife used for basic street survival needs (you know… opening and cutting things?) as well as for both self-protection (something “concealed carry” fans are big on, I think?) and for threatening/harming others.   It’s an extremely popular tactic, when dealing with low-level offenders (remember these are all MISDEMEANORS or Ann Davidson would have no say over them) to pile every possible offense on them in order to “build a case” and pressure people to accept guilty pleas on “reduced” charges.  And then folks are locked up, they lose whatever possessions and (even temporary) employment they might or might not have, they  come out with a record and no place to live or paying work to do, and the cycle continues.  So let’s have another go around the wheel, why not?

  • anonyme March 16, 2022 (7:47 am)

    This sounds like a step in the right direction, but tells me nothing about how the program will actually work.  What are these “interventions”?  I hate all this politispeak; please, can’t we just once get some facts out of the mouth of a politician? 

  • bill March 16, 2022 (9:19 am)

    If these cases are being handled by the City Attorney it means they are misdemeanors. No disrespect to the victims, but misdemeanors are not serious crimes. The penalties are relatively light and incentives to “go straight” via treatment or intervention are small. I think everyone exclaiming, “Hallelujah Ann Davidson,” is going to be disappointed.

Sorry, comment time is over.