Seattle Police Shootings Test New Civilian Oversight Unit


The Seattle Police Department's new use-of-force policy, in effect for less than a month, is already being tested after two police shootings — one of them fatal — this week, reports the city’s Times. The policy, negotiated between the Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice, was crafted in response to the findings of a 2011 federal investigation that concluded Seattle police resort to force too quickly and routinely use too much when they do.

The policy calls for a representative from the department's Office of Professional Accountability, its civilian-led internal-investigations unit, to be dispatched to the scene of every police shooting. The policy went into place Jan. 1. After each of the two recent shootings, Pierce Murphy, director of the new civilian unit, was notified within minutes, and he responded to the scenes, he said. Thus far, police have released few details of the shootings.

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