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Seattle gets more time to comply with police consent decree

(Seattle Police Department)

A federal judge granted a request from the City of Seattle Thursday, allowing for another 30 days to come up with a plan to get back in compliance with a consent decree related to police reforms.

In May, U.S District Judge James Robart ordered the city, DOJ, federal monitor and community police commission to come up with a plan by July 15, after finding the city had fallen out of compliance on police accountability. The reasoning related to a new SPD contract that lets officers appeal disciplinary decisions through an outside arbitrator, rather than a stronger process that came with the city’s new police accountability measures.

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In court filings, the city said it needs more time to engage all parties — and detailed steps it’s already taken and will take — including an upcoming meeting with the Community Police Commission.

“To be clear, this assessment will not start over the decades of work that Seattle, the Department and our community has done towards accountability. Rather, these efforts are to comply with the Court’s order and to continually improve our discipline and accountability systems,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement.

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A ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart in May found issue with accountability for disciplined officers, citing concern over one recent incident, where Seattle Officer Adley Shepherd was fired after punching a handcuffed woman in the back of his patrol car. Officer Shepherd was later reinstated by an arbitrator. Robart showed video of the incident to the courtroom to emphasize his point regarding a system of accountability in need of improvement.

Once the City proves it’s back in compliance, it will have to maintain that status for two full years before the consent decree can be terminated.

“I believe our work on the Court-ordered methodology will realize our shared goals of robust community participation and ensure the SPD remains in full and effective compliance with the goals of the Consent Decree,” Mayor Durkan said.

KIRO Radio reporter Hanna Scott contributed to this story

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