Seattle Police Brutality Claims Settled by DOJ

     SEATTLE (CN) – A federal judge has approved a settlement between the Justice Department and Seattle Police to resolve claims that police routinely use unnecessary and excessive force.
     The proposed agreement was filed in July, ending months of contentious negotiations between Seattle and the DOJ.
     Judge James L. Robart signed off on the agreement Friday, saying the settlement is “fair and adequately addresses the interests of all concerned.”
     The city denied any “pattern or practice of constitutional violations” by its officers, but agreed to an independent monitor and court oversight for the police.
     The DOJ concluded an 11-month investigation in December 2011 and released a scathing report condemning the use of excessive force and civil rights violations.
     “Specifically, the 67-page DOJ Report asserted that SPD had engaged in unjustified use of impact weapons, unjustified escalation of minor encounters into force events particularly against individuals with mental illness or those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, unjustified use of force against persons who were restrained or simply exercising their First Amendment rights, and unjustified use of force by multiple officers. The DOJ Report also asserted that this pattern or practice of using unlawful force derived from SPD’s systematic failure to implement adequate policies, procedures, training, and oversight,” according to Robart’s findings of fact.
     Over the next seven months, both sides hammered out an agreement that would revise police “policies, procedures, and supervisory practices that would prevent a pattern or practice of constitutional violations as alleged by the United States,” the ruling says.
     “During this process, both the United States and the City consulted with subject matter experts, both internal and external, to ensure that the remedial measures in the Agreement and Stipulated Order are tailored to address the specific concerns identified by DOJ and can be reasonably implemented by SPD. SPD command staff, OPA, and other SPD personnel assisted in crafting the Agreement and Stipulated Order and in resolving potential adverse operational impacts,” according to the ruling.
     The ruling also said both parties consulted with officers, City and State officials and members of the community to reach the agreement. The agreement is the “most effective way to address the allegations of unconstitutional policing made by the United States,” Robart said.

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