The Seattle City Council has lifted a budget proviso that clears the police department to bring back a Community Service Officer program.

The department’s CSO program operated for 33 years, ending in 2004 due to budget cuts. The officers served as liaisons between SPD and the community.

SPD requested the program be reinstated during the 2017-18 biennial budget process, and the city council set aside funding for program development in 2017 and implementation in the second quarter of 2018.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who pushed for bringing back community service officers, said he was disappointed it took so long to get to implementation, prior to the July 1 vote that lifts a budget proviso that no more than $653,000 be spent on the program until a report outlining its development and deployment was finished. The city expects the full cost of the CSO program this year will be $1.3 million.

Seattle Police Assistant Chief Adrian Diaz submitted SPD’s program development and implementation report to the council’s Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education Committee chair Lorena González on April 17.

“Community service officers will not carry weapons nor enforce criminal laws,” González said. “Instead, they will serve to bridge the service gap on noncriminal calls for service and perform a variety of public safety-related community service and outreach work, thus freeing up sworn police officers to focus on more critical matters.”

Ten noncommissioned CSOs will be hired to work staggered shifts, with two squads working Monday-Friday and Tuesday-Saturday. They will be stationed at the Seattle Justice Center downtown, according to the CSO Program Report, “a central location conducive to efficient and effective deployment of a city-wide resource, like the CSO Unit.” There will be two supervisor positions.

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is working with SPD to recruit candidates representative of the communities they will serve.

CSOs will be trained in operations, social work, deescalation, crisis intervention, institutional racism and cultural competency, González said, and respond on foot or in marked vehicles, largely at the direction of patrol officers.

While not part of the city’s Navigation Team, which engages with people experiencing homelessness, offering them services prior to removing unsanctioned encampments, CSOs will work proactively with Seattle’s homeless populations.

“CSOs will serve unsheltered populations as a support to primary resources, such as the Navigation Team,” the report states. “At the request of a Patrol Officer, a CSO may respond to evaluate the needs of a community member, including unsheltered individuals, and connect them with relevant services and programs, such as emergency housing services.”

Their three prioritized categories of work, according to the CSO Program Report, will be community engagement and education, system navigation, and youth services and diversion.

They will wear collared shirts identifying them as community service officers, and SPD will transition existing vehicles in its fleet to be marked for CSO units.