Seattle Police Department details changes since George Floyd’s death

Apr 20, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:02 pm
OPA, police, Seattle, subpoena, crowd control weapons, seattle police...
Police follow protesters as they move through the city during a Nov. 3, 2020 protest in Seattle.(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Moments after a judge read the jury’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the Seattle Police Department released a statement listing the changes it’s made in the past year.

SPD described Floyd’s murder as “a watershed moment for America,” stating that real change has sprung from that pain, and noting that the community’s expectations of policing have been made clear.

SPD’s statement, in part:

The Seattle Police Department already is making changes to move towards a more equitable model of public safety.  We have banned neck restraints, chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

The SPD also requires Department-wide implicit bias and active bystandership training to empower officers to recognize and intervene when a colleague is doing wrong.

Other more recent modifications since George Floyd’s murder, include:

  • Reducing the SPD’s visible footprint around crowd events to avoid escalation that may result from an SPD presence;
  • Clarification of the rights, roles, and identification of volunteer medics, media and legal observers;
  • A more robust statement of purpose that embraces Seattle’s approach to facilitating public assembly, over and beyond what would be required under a strict First Amendment analysis;
  • Emphasizing de-escalation and force modulation responsive to changes in crowd behavior following an order to disperse;
  • More robust emphasis on crowd intervention tactics that focus on isolating and arresting law violators within an otherwise peaceable assembly;
  • Providing consistency in required warnings around the use of less-lethal tools;

The Seattle Police Department acknowledges the future of public safety is something we need to create together. These revisions incorporate recommendations by members of the community and our accountability partners, including the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Police Accountability and the Community Police Commission.

The SPD understands many people may be inspired to collectively voice their on-going concerns about the criminal justice system in our country. The SPD supports the First Amendment rights of everyone and requests that, when you gather, please do so peacefully while respecting the rights of others.

Seattle police spent most of the summer locked in confrontations with protesters and rioters who took the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daniel Prude, among others.

The police department has been criticized for its tactics in dealing with large crowds in downtown Seattle.

Accountability group received over 19,000 complaints against SPD from protests in 2020

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Seattle Police Department details changes since George Floyd’s death