The Seattle City Council approved a bill Monday aimed at cracking down on biased policing.
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The new legislation requires officers to collect data on the people they stop to ensure they’re not targeting persons based on race, sex, or ethnicity. It was passed 8-0 (Councilmember Kshama Sawant was absent).
The Seattle Police Department already has a bias-free policing policy in place. It began in 2015 after DOJ investigators raised concerns about discrimination by SPD officers.
Council President Bruce Harrell and Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez say the legislation “sends a strong message that the city is committed to ensuring constitutional policing now and in the future.”
The police department found itself once again being publicly scrutinized after the fatal shooting of a black pregnant mother of four in June. Charleena Lyles was killed after calling 911 about an alleged burglary — neither of the two officers who responded had a Taser when Lyles allegedly attacked them.
Since that shooting, some, including the head of the Seattle Police Guild, said shooting Lyles fell within the department’s use-of-force policy.
Jeffery Robinson, a Seattle attorney who also works at ACLU headquarters in New York, told KIRO Radio he doesn’t believe the officers involved will be charged. He partially blames the way Washington state law is written.
“As you know, Seattle has the most extreme use-of-force statute in the country. What I can tell you is that the police officers who shot and killed that woman in Seattle, nobody should expect them to be charged with a crime. It absolutely, positively will not happen under the law as it is in Seattle.”