Federal judge to Seattle: Explain your ‘lack of compliance’ on police reforms

Aug 1, 2018, 8:51 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2018, 5:50 am
seattle, police, spd, bias...
(Seattle Police Department via Facebook)
(Seattle Police Department via Facebook)

A federal judge ordered Seattle city attorneys and police representatives to a Friday meeting to discuss what he called a possible “lack of compliance” on court-ordered reforms for the Seattle Police Department.

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While the order didn’t specify how Seattle and its police department might be out of compliance, City Attorney Pete Holmes said the sticking point is the speed at which the city granted oversight access to internal data, such as use-of-force information. He added that the city can sufficiently explain itself to Western District Judge James Robart, who issued the order Tuesday.

“I think we will satisfy the judge that we are in compliance,” Holmes said. “It was a matter of federal red tape, nothing more.”

First tweeted out Tuesday by Seattle City Council Insight, Judge Robart implied that the city was not doing what he had ordered in previous hearings:

Holmes said Robart specifically appears to be concerned that the city didn’t quickly grant remote data access to Julio Thompson, a member of the independent team selected to monitor the aspects of the SPD’s 2012 federal consent decree. The consent decree arose from a string of high-profile and controversial incidents involving the department’s use of force, particularly with local minorities.

For the past five years, the department has operated with federal oversight as it reformed its procedures, training, and hiring. Just last January, Robart declared that the city and its police department finally was in “full and effective compliance” with the decree. But to maintain compliance, the court required the city to file two-years of quarterly reports to show it was not backsliding.

Tuesday’s order from Judge Robart came just days in advance of the city’s next report.

According to a response filed by Holmes’ office on Wednesday, Judge Robart on July 9 had ordered that Thompson, who lives in Vermont, “receive remote access to the SPD’s Data Analytic Platform within seven days of receiving his fingerprints.”

But that didn’t happen. Holmes said it was nothing more than a slow-moving federal bureaucracy not processing Thompson’s security clearances fast enough. He added Thompson is now cleared to access the data and that he is confident Judge Robart will be satisfied with the city’s explanation.

“The red tape takes longer than people expect,” he said.

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Federal judge to Seattle: Explain your ‘lack of compliance’ on police reforms