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Investigation of the Seattle Police Department

On March 31, 2011, we opened an investigation of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 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, we announced our findings. We found that SPD has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law. Our investigation further raised serious concerns that some SPD policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in discriminatory policing. We negotiated and filed a consent decree to address these concerns on July 27, 2012, and separately entered into a settlement agreement on related issues on that same date. On September 21, the court modified and entered the consent decree. The documents below provide more information about the investigation, the Justice Department's findings, the consent decree and memorandum of understanding, and next steps.

Findings Letter (12/16/11)

Technical Assistance Letter on Garrity issues (11/23/11)

Complaint (7/27/12)

Settlement Agreement (7/27/12)

Memorandum of Understanding (7/27/12)

Joint Motion for Entry of the Agreement (7/27/12)

Order Modifying and Preliminarily Approving Agreement (9/21/12)

General Information Special Litigation Section
Jonathan M. Smith
Special Litigation Section
(202) 514-6255
toll-free at (877) 218-5228

FAX - (202) 514-0212
Alt. FAX - (202) 514-6273
Email -
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