Consent decree between SPD, City of Seattle to ‘partially’ end
Sep 6, 2023, 1:30 PM
(Photo courtesy of SPD)
After more than 11 years, the consent decree between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is expiring partially after a federal judge in the state of Washington ruled to terminate the majority of the decree Wednesday.
With the city and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcing its agreement that the ‘vast majority’ of orders in the consent decree have been satisfied, District Court Judge James L. Robart, who represents the Western District of Washington, ruled two outstanding issues — officer accountability and police crowd control tactics — will still need federal oversight, leaving the consent decree to still be in place at a partial capacity.
Previous coverage: Seattle Police consent decree set to end after more than a decade
But Robart said he is exceedingly proud of the progress made by SPD in transforming the department and implementing a more constitutional form of policing. The City of Seattle and the DOJ agreed, according to a court filing in March, claiming SPD has made “far-reaching reforms” and has “achieved remarkable progress” since the institution of the consent decree and is now a “transformed organization.”
“Any pattern or practice of unconstitutional force that existed has been eliminated,” the court filing continued.
More on SPD from Jason Rantz: Seattle cop reports own conversation, fears of out-of-context smears
The DOJ found the SPD used weapons either excessively or unnecessarily during arrests in 2012 more than 50% of the time, with the DOJ claiming many of the problems within the police department were exacerbated by the large number of less-experienced officers, according to CNN.
Approximately one-third of the officers had three or fewer years experience at the time of the ruling. Now, in 2023, SPD is working with some of its lowest staffing in 30 years, according to KING 5. This comes after having approximately 1,315 officers in 2017, the highest total in the last seven years. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s goal is to have 1,400 deployable police officers within SPD.