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Seattle Police Department on schedule to meet reform deadline

Seattle police say they've made progress in a 20-month effort to reform the department. (AP Photo/file)

Seattle police are about halfway through a 20-month effort to reform the department and Mayor Mike McGinn said he’s pleased with the progress.

The overhaul, begun last year, features 20 initiatives, including weekly reviews of use of force, invigorated training and new efforts to improve relations with communities.

You can view an online report on the status of the police reform initiatives.

The reforms have progressed on schedule according to McGinn, even as police dealt with a rash of gun violence at the start of 2012. He says more than 20 homicides were recorded in the first few months of last year and since then, the number of homicides is five.

“That’s a big deal, that was partnering with the federal government on enforcement on guns, gun stings, violence emphasis patrols,” the mayor told reporters Wednesday, updating the public on police reform efforts that are part of 20/20 Initiative.

Seattle Police have added a Force Review Board, meeting weekly, which is based on the existing Firearms Review Board. The internal review committee examines every officer use of force and police have added a Force Investigation Team that is dispatched to locations where use of force is reported.

McGinn says police are now focusing their patrol efforts on “hot spots” based on analysis of crime statistics in the five precincts. McGinn called it data driven policing.

“And that’s really created a significant shift in the culture of policing, away from just patrolling an area to actually addressing disorder closer to the origins of its cause,” said McGinn.

The city has also hired a full time Race and Social Justice program coordinator and all sworn and civilian officers will get new training by the end of 2013.

The police department is under the oversight of the U.S. Justice Department following a federal investigation into excessive use of force and biased policing at SPD. McGinn said the police department and city intend to keep the promises and policy changes spelled out in the court-enforced agreement.

“This department has worked to develop those policies and to put together plans to meet those commitments and we’re ready for their review,” said McGinn.

The mayor also announced Thursday that new police recruiting efforts are underway including elimination of a $25 application fee.

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