U.S. Says Seattle Gives Police Too Much Protection In Force Cases


A Seattle Police Department policy that allows officers to invoke protection against self-incrimination in routine use-of-force investigations is overbroad and offers unnecessary protection to police while undermining public confidence, says a U.S. Department of Justice letter reported by the Seattle Times. The Justice Department told Mayor Mike McGinn that the protection is routinely extended to situations where it was never intended to be applied.

Justice said the letter was sent in hopes that the department would address the issue immediately, “given the serious nature of our concerns,” wrote Jonathan Smith, chief of Justice’s Special Litigation Section, and Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney in Seattle. The letter focuses on the Seattle police application of a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Garrity vs. New Jersey, that any potentially incriminating statement made by a police officer cannot be used to prosecute him in a criminal case if the officer believes he was compelled to give the statement under threat of losing his job.

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