Mark Johnson, SVP of Policy and Government Affairs, was invited to comment on the recently released Seattle City Attorney report, “The City Can Do More to Tackle Organized Retail Crime in Seattle,” before the Public Safety and Human Services Committee.
Councilmembers Andrew Lewis and Lisa Herbold, Chair of the Committee, requested the audit. Other councilmembers present at the briefing included Sara Nelson, Alex Pedersen, and Teresa Mosqueda.
WR commends the Council and the Auditor’s Office for the excellent report highlighting the city’s challenges due to ORC rings. The report offers specific and lasting solutions in seven steps and ten recommendations. Dr. Claudia Gross Shader, Auditor in Charge, researched and compiled the report, which Mayor Harrell and the Seattle Police Department have embraced.
The report is especially timely as the national Retail Industry Leaders Association has recently announced a “Vibrant Communities” pilot program to focus on Seattle and King County to create model provisions to increase public safety, address retail theft, and combat ORC. WR will be partnering with these vital efforts.
A critical recognition within the multi-pronged approach outlined in the report is the need for substantial focus on breaking the cycle of retail theft from ORC rings and those they enlist to “boost” or shoplift on their behalf. The ORC rings prey upon those experiencing substance abuse disorders, mental illness, and housing insecurity. These individuals are desperately in need of services to address their challenges.
WR is eager to partner with Seattle, King County, and all interested stakeholders to support creative, effective, and enduring solutions that will last into the future and work to help other communities facing similar issues.