By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A vigilant member of the community for years, assisting Asian Pacific Islander (API) victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, has been appointed to the Seattle Police Department’s Community Police Commission (CPC).
Emma Catague hopes to continue to provide a voice for the API community. She would like to address police response issues to the
International District (ID) and the south end of Seattle, and see what can be done to ensure that these communities’ needs are met.
The CPC is a panel of community members and stakeholders monitoring reform and accountability of the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The panel was established in March 2013 as part of the Consent Decree with the United States Department of Justice to address civil rights complaints against the SPD. The CPC has been providing community input to better support constitutional policing and promote public confidence. There can be up to 21 members of the CPC and they include people from communities of color, ethnic and faith communities, the urban Indian community, the LGBTQ community, and the business community.
Catague co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center (now known as API Chaya). She is the former director of the International District Housing Authority (now part of InterImCDA. Although she retired from API Chaya in 2014, she returned to work at the Filipino Community of Seattle, where she continues assisting the API community. She has helped with issues from sex trafficking to labor trafficking. The latter deals with people that are brought to the United States from other countries and are forced to work here. Catague is dedicated to assisting those in need. “I love working with the community and my passion is continuing to help.” She added, “My thing is, if I can help one person get out of a situation, I have done my job.”
Originally born, raised, and educated in the Philippines, Catague came to the United States in the 1970s. A survivor of domestic violence, Catague focused on helping others, with an emphasis on assisting other Filipinos and APIs in the 1980s. “There was not an organization that could help,” recalled Catague, which drove her to start an organization to help those facing domestic violence and sexual assault. “At that time there was a need, there was a lot going on in the community, especially in the Filipino community.” She noted that it was a challenge in educating the community that there was a problem. Catague also cited issues with funding, but found partners with the Refugee Women’s Alliance and the Asian Counseling Referral Service in South Seattle.
Catague has a history of working with the SPD, which should help her in this new position. “I started being involved with SPD when working with the ID Housing Alliance.” Catague has worked with the late Donnie Chin with issues in the ID. She helped start a public safety group and worked with the East and West Precincts in coordinating issues of police response in the neighborhood.
She has also worked with SPD to help them understand cultural issues when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault.
In addition to the appointment of Catague last month, Murray also appointed executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, Colleen Echohawk, to the commission. “We now have landmark police accountability legislation that establishes unprecedented, independent civilian oversight and a permanent community seat at the table,” Murray stated in a news release. “We must ensure constitutional policing is a reality for all residents. Colleen and Emma are proven community leaders that will carry on this mission and help continue to improve the relationship between communities of color and the police.” ■
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.