by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced the latest version of legislation intended to restrict the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) use of so-called “less-lethal weapons” against demonstrators during a Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 22, more than a year after the council first began its efforts to limit SPD’s crowd control arsenal. The proposal would restrict the use of tear gas, pepper-ball launchers, and pepper spray by SPD officers responding to protests and outright ban five other less-lethal weapons, including blast balls.
Continue reading Council Reviews New Version of ‘Less-Lethal’ Weapons Ban
by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article was originally published at PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
U.S. District Court Judge James Robart convened a hearing Thursday to address how Seattle’s path to compliance with the federal consent decree has changed in the wake of last summer’s racial justice protests. The consent decree — the agreement between the City and the Department of Justice (DOJ) that empowers the federal court to oversee reforms to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) — dates back to 2012, when the DOJ investigation found that SPD officers frequently used excessive force without consequences.
In Thursday’s hearing, Robart made clear that Seattle’s path toward an end to federal oversight is still murky and that SPD’s response to protests last year added another obstacle. To end federal oversight, the City first needs to achieve compliance with the terms of the consent decree and remain in compliance for two years; Robart uses input from the City, accountability experts, and a court-appointed monitoring team to decide what “compliance” entails.
Continue reading Federal Judge Concerned about Future of Seattle’s Consent Decree
by Paul Kiefer
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Friday morning, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office released a new report from the City’s Budget Office and the Seattle Police Department showing a record-breaking number of officer separations from SPD in September. In that month alone, 39 officers and officers in training left the department — double the number of officers leaving in the next-highest month on record. Without an end to the ongoing hiring freeze (a part of the City’s COVID-related austerity), SPD and the Budget Office project the department to continue hemorrhaging sworn staff well into 2021, potentially exceeding the staffing cuts proposed by the City Council during the summer.
The pending staff shortage places the department at risk of falling further out of compliance with the conditions of the Federal consent decree, increasing the likelihood that SPD will remain under the supervision of the Department of Justice for years to come. (Federal District Court Judge James Robart, responsible for overseeing Seattle’s consent decree for the Department of Justice, already ruled the City partially out of compliance in 2019).
Continue reading Seattle Police Department Announces Record-Breaking Attrition