Seattle officials agreed to an independent monitor and court oversight of the city’s police department as part of an agreement announced Friday with the Justice Department following a damning report that found officers routinely used excessive force, reports the Associated Press. City and federal negotiators were involved in tense talks over the scope of a deal for months, and Justice Department lawyers had threatened to sue the city if a deal was not reached by July 31.
“It’s no secret there were a few bumps in the road to get here,” Mayor Mike McGinn said. “We do have a lot of work in front of us.” The Justice Department launched its civil rights investigation early last year after the fatal shooting of a homeless, Native American woodcarver and other incidents involving force used against minority suspects. In December, a DOJ report found officers were too quick to reach for weapons, such as flashlights and batons, even when arresting people for minor offenses. The settlement must be approved by a federal judge. Court oversight would continue for five years, but the city could ask to end the scrutiny earlier if it has complied with the agreements for two years.