U.S. Justice Department Warns New Seattle Mayor Of Slow Police Reform Pace


The Seattle Police Department has failed to develop adequate plans to ensure sergeants have manageable workloads, says the U.S. Justice Department, setting back a key element of a court-ordered consent decree to curb excessive force and biased policing, reports the Seattle Times. The department also has failed to draft sufficient plans to train officers in new use-of-force policies, wrote Jonathan Smith, a top DOJ civil-rights official, and Jenny Durkan, the U.S. attorney in Seattle wrote to Mayor Ed Murray.

Work plans produced by the Police Department on Dec. 31 “were not serious attempts to move reform forward” and “dug us in a deep hole, from which we have had to climb out over the past two months,” the two officials wrote. In addition, the city improperly inflated the costs of the reform effort to the extent it could “erode public support and trust for the process,” Smith and Durkan wrote, signalling that the city faces a long road to compliance with the consent decree. Smith and Durkan acknowledged that Murray inherited the problems from the previous city administration when he took office in January after defeating former Mayor Mike McGinn.

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