In a landmark ruling, U.S. District Judge James Robart found the Seattle Police Department in “full and effective compliance” with court-ordered reforms imposed on the city more than five years ago after high-profile incidents involving use of force, reports the Seattle Times. The city will enter into a two-year review period in which it must show the sweeping reforms are locked in place, and address a list of issues Robart laid out. “The ability to sustain the good work that has begun is not a foregone conclusion,” the judge said. “It will require dedication, hard work, creativity, flexibility, vigilance, endurance, and continued development and refinement of policies and procedures in accordance with constitutional principles.”
The ruling is a major turning point for the police department, recognizing its accomplishments since the city entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department in 2012 to address allegations that officers had engaged in a “pattern or practice” of using excessive force and displayed troubling evidence of biased policing. “This is a very significant and good day for the city of Seattle, for the Police Department and for the community,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. The department began to move toward compliance under former Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, who was hired by the city in 2014 when the reform effort was foundering. She stepped down Dec. 31. The ruling clears the path for Durkan — who was U.S. Attorney when the Justice Department in 2011 found deficiencies in the police department — to push for the continued reforms she has pledged to carry out.