With our local election around the corner, I read your coverage of Riaz Khan’s Mukilteo City Council reelection bid.
I was troubled by his assertion that he’d “like to see more robust neighborhood watches and community policing to help protect both life and property in our city,” because neighborhood watches and community policing efforts have a long history of exacerbating racial profiling and discrimination, along with classist notions of who and what is “suspicious.”
Neighborhood watches were established in the early 1960s, largely as a surveilling and oppressive response to the civil rights movement. As such, I strongly disagree that they would help keep Mukilteo’s communities safe in an equitable and just manner. In fact, neighborhood watches and community policing are known to be ineffective in creating long-term safety and prosperity for people and businesses.
I encourage Councilmember Khan and all of our local elected officials to help our unhoused neighbors – not surveil and police them – by working to increase the availability of permanent supportive housing for those struggling with homelessness, along with truly affordable housing for all residents.
A ‘housing first’ approach to homelessness and associated survival crimes has been proven to be overwhelmingly effective in other cities and I hope to see Mukilteo’s leaders implement these best practices moving forward.
Lorie Stewart, Mukilteo resident