MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle ban on crowd control weapons violated consent decree, says DOJ

Jul 20, 2020, 9:04 AM | Updated: 10:23 am

Seattle police, tear gas, OPA, less lethal weapons...

Police clashing with Seattle protesters in early June of 2020. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office submitted a filing Friday, stating that the Department of Justice has informed the city that a recently-passed ban on the use of crowd control weapons violates an ongoing consent decree with the police department.

Why SPD is still allowed to use pepper spray, tear gas despite ban

Seattle’s been operating under the consent decree since 2012 — led by then-U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan — after a DOJ investigation “found a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.” The decree prohibits SPD from implementing policy changes without first submitting them to the DOJ and a federal monitor for review and approval.

The city’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) attached a joint statement to the filing, agreeing that the council bill banning the use, purchase, and storage of weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets, and more, violated procedures mandated by the consent decree.

“OPA and OIG have procedural concerns regarding the impact of legislating matters under the Court’s jurisdiction, as well as on the implementation of significant changes to SPD policy without allowing the accountability entities to provide input and recommendations for consideration by the City and the Court,” the statement reads.

ACLU files lawsuit against City of Seattle over police violence at protests

The ban was passed unanimously by Seattle City Council; Mayor Durkan left the bill unsigned, leaving it to take effect on July 26 (30 days after it was passed). The filing from the City Attorney’s Office asks that the court hold off on any action regarding the ban until the OPA and OIG submit their own recommendations by August 15.

Police Chief Carmen Best also attached a memorandum to the filing, asking the court to stop the ban from going into effect “until a thorough review is conducted by DOJ, the Monitor, and the Court,” a move Mayor Durkan supports as well.

City Attorney Pete Holmes recently withdrew a motion that had initially asked the court to end the consent decree, following a series of clashes between protesters and police in May and June.

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Seattle ban on crowd control weapons violated consent decree, says DOJ