On March 31, 2011, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. § 14141), the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following a comprehensive investigation, on December 16, 2011, the DOJ announced its findings that SPD engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law.
On July 27, 2012, the DOJ filed this lawsuit against the City of Seattle in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington under 42 U.S.C. § 14141. DOJ asked the court to order the Seattle Police Department to adopt certain training and supervision accountability to prevent further excessive use of force. The complaint was filed concurrently with a settlement and proposed order of resolution on behalf of both parties that provided guidance on procedures the Seattle Police Department must implement.
U.S. District Judge James L. Robart entered the settlement, and he approved Merrick Bobb as the police monitor for the City of Seattle on October 30, 2012. On November 28, 2012, the first status conference for implementation of the consent decree was held before Judge Robart. On March 12, 2013, Judge Robart approved the monitoring plan for the first year.
On October 24, 2013, the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC) moved to intervene. On November 26, 2013, Judge Robart denied the motion, finding that the motion was not timely submitted and that CPC was already adequately represented in the action. However, Judge Robart granted CPC amicus curiae
status in order to allow CPC to express its views on issues raised by the parties in this action. CPC submitted its amicus
brief on December 3, 2013.
On November 27, 2013, the monitor submitted a consensus use of force policy to guard against discriminatory policing and unlawful stops and searches. This policy was reviewed and approved by Judge Robart on January 17, 2014.
On March 3, 2014, the monitor submitted a consensus performance mentoring policy to establish a proactive risk management strategy for identifying and correcting possible problematic behavior. Judge Robart reviewed and approved this policy on March 20, 2014.
On May 24, 2014, Judge Robart approved the monitoring plan for the second year. In accordance with the plan, the monitor submitted Force Investigation Team training curriculum and materials, which set forth the training the independent FIT would receive to investigate high level uses of force. In addition, the monitor also submitted crisis intervention and comprehensive use of force training materials to the court. These materials were approved by Judge Robart on June 13, 2014.
On July 10, 2014, Judge Robart also approved the monitor's submitted operations and training manual for the SPD Office of Professional Accountability. An additional consensus use of force curriculum was approved by Judge Robart on August 14, 2014. On September 22, 2014, Judge Robart approved the monitor's search and seizure and bias-free policing training materials as well as the monitor's consensus advanced crisis intervention training curriculum and strategy.
In 2015, Judge Robart approved a number of submissions by the Monitor:
February 20: 2015 training plan
March 19: third-year monitoring plan
May 11: revised early intervention system policy
June 4: revised crisis intervention policy
June 11: policies for bias-free policing
On July 20, 2015, Judge Robart approved an update to the third-year monitoring plan which adjusted the training schedule and some relevant milestones. On October 1, 2015, Judge Robart also approved updates to certain deadlines in the monitoring plan, which were revised again on December 16, 2015, January 25, 2016, and February 4, 2016.
On January 20, 2016, Judge Robart reviewed a newly revised Office of Professional Accountability manual and two related SPD policies. Judge Robart was inclined to approve the revisions, but suggested a change with respect to the appeals process for SPD employees, pending responses from the parties and amicus curiae
. Responses were submitted by the City of Seattle and the CPC amicus curiae on February 1, 2016.
Implementation of the consent decree is still ongoing.Andrew Steiger - 11/18/2013
John He - 02/15/2016