Photo by Casey Jaywork

Photo by Casey Jaywork

DOJ: Seattle Police Are Complying With Consent Decree

But Judge Robart could side with monitor Merrick Bobb, who has said SPD is not in full compliance.

More than five years after the Department of Justice found a pattern of brutality and possible racial bias among Seattle police, the feds now say that Seattle’s Finest are in initial compliance with the federal consent decree, the legal settlement by which the feds have prodded SPD reforms.

If federal judge James Robart agrees, it will begin a two-year probation period during which SPD must demonstrate sustained compliance, after which it would be free and clear of the consent decree forever. The City of Seattle agrees with the DOJ. But federal monitor Merrick Bobb, the court’s eyes and ears on the ground, previously disagreed. Bobb’s response to the requests for certifying initial compliance is due on Friday, October 20.

In a press release on Friday, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Annette Hayes said, “After much work over more than five years, the City of Seattle has reached a significant milestone in complying with the requirements of the Consent Decree. New policies, training, and systems of oversight and accountability have resulted in the Seattle Police Department (SPD) meeting its obligations under Phase I of the Consent Decree and thereby eliminating the pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing that led to our investigation and findings in 2011.”

Earlier in the day, the Community Police Commission (CPC) published its own endorsement of the City of Seattle’s request to be declared in compliance with the consent decree. “The CPC agrees that the Monitor’s ten systemic assessments demonstrate that the City has achieved ‘full and effective compliance’ with the Consent Decree, and that the focus of this case should now shift to the City demonstrating sustained compliance with the Consent Decree,” wrote commissioner Enrique Gonzalez and co-chairs Rev. Harriet Walden and Isaac Ruiz. “The City, especially the Seattle Police Department, will bear the burden of demonstrating sustained compliance. For its part, the CPC will prioritize fulfilling the remaining duties assigned to it in the Consent Decree during the two year sustained compliance period.”

Earlier this year, Bobb praised SPD for making great improvements and complied with parts of the consent decree, but stopped short of declaring full compliance. “The…assessments, all clearly important, nevertheless do not constitute all the requirements of the Consent Decree,” Bobb wrote in a September 8 status report. “The assessments found the SPD in initial compliance with more to be done in various areas.”

In June, the monitoring team published evidence of racial bias in SPD stops and frisks. “The Monitoring Team discovered that the racial disparity with respect to who is stopped and who is frisked in Seattle cannot be easily explained in terms of” anything other than racial bias, wrote Bobb. “Even after incorporating [other] factors, an individual’s race alone helps to predict the likelihood of being stopped and the likelihood of being frisked by an SPD officer.”

Bobb’s response to the requests that SPD be found in full initial compliance and thus be allowed to begin the two-year period during which it must demonstrate sustained compliance are due to the court (and public) on Friday, October 20. After Bobb responds, Judge Robart will decide what happens next.

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com

More in News & Comment

Mary Lynn Pannen, founder and CEO of Sound Options, has consulted thousands of Washington families on geriatric care for 30 years. Photo courtesy of Sound Options
Seattle Takes on Elder Abuse as Reported Cases Rise

Local agencies and geriatric care managers aim to increase public awareness about the epidemic.

The Ride2 transit app will offer on-demand rides to and from West Seattle starting on Dec. 17. Courtesy of King County Metro
Climate Action Coalition Urges City to Respond to Seattle Squeeze

MASS asks the city to prioritize reducing traffic and increasing pedestrian safety ahead of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s closure.

State Supreme Court Strikes Down I-27; King County Will Pursue Safe Consumption Sites

The decision upholds a court ruling keeping the anti-consumption site initiative off the ballot.

Seattle’s Hockey Team And Stadium Are On Their Way

Key Arena renovations will be completed without the use of public funding

Andrea Bernard, Allycea Weil, and Phoenix Johnson (left to right) are Licton Springs K-8 parents who want their kids to stay in the Native-centered program. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Licton Springs K-8 Parents Dismayed by Potential School Move

The PTO says children have benefited from the Native-centered program, and that transferring the pupils would disrupt their progress.

Seattle Municipal Court’s warrant outreach event on Nov. 30, 2017. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Seattle Takes Steps to Quash Warrants

City Attorney attempts to address inequities in criminal justice system and enhance public safety.

The King County Courthouse. File photo
King County Council Acknowledges Report on Juvenile Solitary Confinement

Report also says youth of color face a disproportionate amount of disciplinary measures

Federal Way Megachurch Slapped With Another Sexual Exploitation Lawsuit

Lawsuit calls for removal of Casey and Wendy Treat, and CFO, from church leadership roles.

The Centralia Power Plant is a coal-burning plant owned by TransAlta which supplies 380 megawatts to Puget Sound Energy. It is located in Lewis County and slated to shut down by 2025. Aaron Kunkler/Staff Photo
National Report Outlines Climate Change’s Course For Northwest

More fires, floods and drought appear to be on their way for Washington state.

Mustafa Getahun and other Washington Federation of State Employees laundry workers picket University of Washington Medicine at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery on May 17, 2018. Photo courtesy of the Washington Federation of State Employees
University of Washington Laundry Workers Feel Hung Out to Dry

The Rainier Valley facility’s imminent closure leaves over 100 people looking for new jobs.