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City Leaders Highlight Continued Progress by Seattle Police Department Under Federal Consent Decree and Commitment to Meaningful, Lasting Reforms

Seattle (May 15) – Following Judge Robart’s comments today, City of Seattle leaders highlighted the continued progress by the Seattle Police Department under the federal, Court-ordered Consent Decree and the City’s commitment to meaningful, lasting reforms.

“I am very heartened by the Judge’s statements today about the progress our Seattle Police Department officers continue to make. Over these many years, our officers have done everything that the Court and the Consent Decree have required, and today the Judge confirmed that. As the City, we agree with the Judge that a lot has been accomplished and the City does have steps to take to remain in full compliance during the sustainment period,” said Mayor Durkan. “I look forward to seeing the Judge’s order next week and addressing any concerns as they relate specifically to the arbitration process, standard of proof, the timeline granted to Office of Police Accountability, and its subpoena power. I trust Judge Robart will continue his thoughtful and thorough approach as he evaluates Seattle’s progress toward lasting reform.”

“I was pleased to hear Judge Robart praise the men and women of the Seattle Police Department and acknowledge that we have become the national model for areas like use of force, de-escalation, and other focus areas of the Consent Decree,” said Chief Police Carmen Best. “I look forward to seeing the Judge’s order. The Seattle Police Department remains committed to making sure we have an iterative process focused on constitutional policing.”

“There is a lot to digest from the Judge’s comments today, and I’m looking forward to gaining some clarity via his written order next week,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes. “My office will continue to advise the Mayor, the Seattle Police Department, and the Seattle City Council as they determine the appropriate next steps in this process.”

Signed by Mayor Durkan as the then-United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, the consent decree required the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to enact significant reforms, including: new use of force policies and trainings that emphasize de-escalation; a new approach to how officers interact with people experiencing mental crisis; new supervision and oversight with community involvement. As a result, there has been a decrease in uses of force overall – including a significant reduction of the most serious uses of force – and a significant decline in force used against people in crisis.

During the Phase II sustainment period that began in January 2018, the City is continuing to demonstrate its ongoing compliance through seven quarterly reports and three types of self-assessments: audits of its practices, reviews of SPD’s policies, and outcome reports that summarize policing data for the public. Quarterly reports must include recent data on use-of-force and crisis intervention practices, an update on the activities of SPD’s Force Review Board and Unit, and a discussion of relevant activities of the accountability organizations — the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and the Community Police Commission (CPC).