Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), Zero Youth Detention Program (ZYD) was asked to oversee the strategic development of a tailored, unique approach to reduce and eliminate gun violence across the region. Stakeholders and Partners are working collaboratively, across sectors, to effectively improve the lived experiences and outcomes of black and brown youth and young adult males, ages 12-25. Research shows this demographic is disproportionately impacted by unjust conditions, overexposure to violence, and the legal system.

Youth & Young Adult Violence:

Youth violence, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, occurs “when young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years intentionally use physical force or power to threaten or harm others”.  Youth can experience violence as a victim, offender, or witness.

5 Types of Youth Violence:

  • Teen dating violence
  • Gang violence
  • Gun violence
  • Structural Violence
  • School-based Violence

Regional Community Safety & Wellbeing Plan:

ZYD recruited technical assistance support from Cities United (CU), a national network of mayors committed to eradicating gun violence. CU has developed a blueprint called the Roadmap to Safe, Healthy, and Hopeful Communities.

Through the partnership with CU, ZYD is actively engaged in building out a regionally tailored version of the CU Six Milestones Framework for King County:

  • Identifying Regional Historical Data
  • Engaging Key Stakeholders
  • Collaboratively Developing Key Directions
  • Identifying Oversight & Accountability Measures
  • Identify & Secure Resources
  • Edit, Review & Disseminate Plan

We are in milestones 1 and 2. Both involve identifying regional data and engaging community-based leaders.

Phase 1: Identifying Regional Historical Data

To fully understand data around community safety in Seattle and King County, ZYD and leaders across various sectors compiled and reviewed regional-based, historical data. The goal of the data walk was to gain a better understanding of local community violence, map out community assets, identify specific factors, and make informed decisions.

The information gathered helped provide an overview that shows of the safety and well-being of different communities and demographics in King County. The data shows obvious disparities by race/ ethnicity and geographic location across King County. 

Phase 2: Engaging Key Stakeholders

The second phase is focused on engaging key stakeholders to begin the process of building a comprehensive Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan developed by a multi-sector and community-based group of leaders. ZYD reached out to key stakeholders and partnered with local leaders to establish monthly meetings with individual municipalities across King County.  

All regional municipalities have been asked to participate in multi-disciplinary workgroups including representatives from regional communities, impacted youth/ residents, service providers, schools, courts, faith groups, parks and recreation, mayors, police chiefs, and city council.

The workgroups will begin planning for the following specified areas:

Do you know a community leader who would be great to co-facilitate one of these Work Groups? Click the links above to submit your picks.

*Facilitators will be compensated

Regional Community Safety & Well-being “Go-First Strategy”:

As King County undergoes the collaborative development of a large-scale public safety plan over the next twelve months, the issues of community violence continue to be urgent. The King County Data Walk indicated, there is an immediate need for a responsive Go-First Strategy to address the increase in gun violence.

Implementation of a “Go-First Strategy”

We will focus our efforts on the most at-risk young people and their families, supporting and healing the impacted families to avoid retaliation and further violence.

Effective community violence intervention, prevention, and restoration (IPR) efforts that specifically serve youth are most successful when they provide wrap-around services and coordinated care.

King County aims to use a regional public health approach to violence by providing:

  • Rigorous intervention for those directly involved
  • Secondary prevention for younger siblings
  • Follow up care and support for family restoration and healing

This work focuses on the high-intensity engagement of young people referred by Harborview Medical Center hospital-based interventionist who will coordinate with outreach/family engagement and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who have identified approximately 50 young people as being most likely to be involved in gun violence, along with their closest associates and younger siblings.

Through this work we aim to build fellowship across our service provider community, while also increasing the capacity and skills of those doing the work as partners organize collaboratively to provide meaningful services along a continuum of need for youth and families most impacted by gun violence.

Submit your comments through this form, or email Zero Youth Detention at, to join us in this work.

Additional Resources:

Public Health – Seattle and King County, Zero Youth Detention (2017)

Zero Youth Detention Roadmap

Zero Youth Detention Data Dashboard (2020)

Zero Youth Detention Implementation Dashboard (2019)

King County Firearm Injury Data Dashboard (2017)

The Impact of Firearms on King County’s Children (November 2013)

King County Firearms Fact Sheet 2017 (2017)

King County Firearm Injury Data Dashboard (2017)

Report on Gun Violence among Youth and Young Adults (2019)

King County Prosecuting Attorney’s 20 in ‘20 (2020)

2020 King County Prosecuting Attorney Shots Fired Data Q1-Q3 (2020)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Social Determinants of Health

King County Data Walk (2019)

Washington State PTA: Youth Death by Gun Violence & Suicide (2021)