Can Seattle Agree with U.S. Justice Department on Police Reforms?


The Seattle Police Department is resisting a U.S. government reform plan after an investigation found officers used excessive force such as punching a handcuffed man in the back of a squad car and stopping non-white citizens for no apparent offense, Reuters reports. Documents released last week show deep divisions between Seattle and the U.S. Justice Department, which are trying to reach an agreement on reforms and have been in
mediation. Mayor Mike McGinn contends his city’s budget deficit leaves little room to implement a reform plan officials say would cost $41 million in the first year alone.

If negotiations break down and the U.S. Department of Justice sues Seattle, it would put a city that considers itself progressive among only a handful singled out for police misconduct lawsuits by the federal government. DOJ has reached voluntary police reform agreements in the past with cities including Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. After high-profile cases of Seattle officers’ using force against non-white people, the American Civil
Liberties Union of Washington state in 2010 asked the Department of Justice to probe Seattle police.

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