Beginning Jan. 1, Seattle police officers will be operating under new rules when it comes to using force, reports the Seattle Times. A federal judge accepted a new and comprehensive use-of-force policy that will, for the first time, outline for officers when force is appropriate and when it isn't, and provide for detailed reporting requirements. The policy, negotiated between the Seattle Police Department and the Department of Justice with the guidance of federal monitor Merrick Bobb, is key to addressing findings of a 2011 federal that concluded Seattle police resort to force too quickly and routinely use too much when they do.
The Justice Department also found disturbing but inconclusive evidence of biased policing. The new policy marks a milestone for the city toward compliance with a settlement reached with the Justice Department 18 months ago to reform the Police Department. The agreement, which still requires additional reforms and training, provides a five-year time frame for the city to implement reforms, with an early out after three years if the city meets its requirements. Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel called the new rules “another step forward in our efforts to provide effective, humane and constitutional policing to our city.”