In our endorsement interview earlier this week, City Council member Jan Drago, who's running for mayor, said it was patently untrue that Mayor Greg Nickels did not eliminate the gang squad during his first term as mayor. (The gang squad has become an issue in the mayor's race. Nickels told us last week that he merely made cuts to the squad, but did not eliminate it.)
"It went from 26 officers to seven—if that's not eliminating, I don't know what is," Drago said.
This afternoon, Drago sent us the "green sheet" on the gang unit from the 2002 budget—the document that shows what the council adopted. From the language, it sure looks like Drago's right. The green sheet says the proposed budget "would eliminate the Gang Unit ... by transferring out 18 Detectives and 4 Detective Sergeants and abrogating the program's administrative positions. ... These and other proposed transfers and abrogations from Coordinated Criminal Investigations would eliminate the entire program."
That same year, Drago proposed reinstating the gang unit but was unsuccessful. Three years later, she and David Della proposed—again, unsuccessfully—rebuilding the gang unit by transferring 14 officers. Mayor Nickels has since proposed a youth violence initiative that would focus on keeping kids out of gangs.