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Seattle Police Consent Decree Ending With 'Remarkable Progress'

The Justice Department moved to end a consent decree with the Seattle Police Department, bringing to a close more than a decade of federal supervision of the police. The Seattle consent decree was established under the Obama administration in 2012 after a DOJ investigation found that the police department had a pattern of using excessive force, CNN reports. Specifically, the Justice Department found that the police department used weapons either excessively or unnecessarily more than half the time during arrests, and that officers engaged in a pattern of discriminatory policing during pedestrian encounters. The Seattle Police Department has made “far-reaching reforms” since the institution of the consent decree and is now a “transformed organization,” the city of Seattle and the Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday.

The Seattle Police Department “achieved remarkable progress,” they said, highlighting that the department has complied with stringent use of force policies and implemented a crisis intervention program. “Any pattern or practice of unconstitutional force that existed has been eliminated.” The request will go to the federal judge who oversaw the police department’s progress and compliance in implementing police reform since the consent decree was signed If approved, the end of the consent decree will mark a significant milestone in the function of federally supervised implementation of police reforms. There are several similar and ongoing consent decrees with police departments across the U.S., as well as pattern-and-practice investigations like the one conducted in Seattle. Critics of consent decrees point to the years-long agreements as proof that federal oversight and investigations can last several years. Early in the Biden administration, the Justice Department implemented reforms to curtail the length of federal oversight.


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