A federal civil-rights investigation into the Seattle Police Department found routine and widespread use of excessive force by officers, and city and police officials have been told they must fix the problems or face a federal lawsuit, the Seattle Times reports. A meeting on the issue last night attended by Mayor Mike McGinn, Police Chief John Diaz, members of his command staff and others, ended in raised voices and bitter accusations by city and police officials, upset at the Justice Department’s findings.
Today’s announcement of the findings comes 11 months after the Justice Department launched a preliminary review of Seattle police at the request of U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and others. Evidence uncovered in that review led to a full-scale civil-rights investigation to examine whether Seattle police engaged in “systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law.” The investigation focused on the use of force and allegations of biased policing against minorities. Diaz has invited the Department of Justice to participate in a top-down rewrite of his department’s policies and procedures.