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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Attorney General Recognizes Outstanding Work by Seattle Police Department Reform Team

WASHINGTON – Five current or former members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington were honored today in Washington D.C. for their work on the Seattle Police Department Pattern and Practice investigation, and resulting consent decree on police reforms.  The recognized team included Attorneys J. Michael Diaz, Rebecca S. Cohen, Kerry J. Keefe, Thomas A. Bates and paralegal Shannon K. Connery.  The case was one of a number of cases recognized by Attorney General Eric Holder at the 30th Annual Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C.

In his prepared remarks, Attorney General Holder told the awardees, “Locally, nationally, and internationally, you represent the very best that this Department has to offer.  Your work embodies our ongoing commitment – not merely to win cases, but to do justice; to protect our fellow citizens from crime, violence, and terrorism; to empower the most vulnerable among us; and to uphold the rule of law.”

“This case is a national model,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “At each stage the team worked to ensure the voice of the community was heard, the important work of the police was advanced and our neighborhoods were made more safe.  The relationship between police and the people they serve is critical to civil society.”

The litigation team in Seattle was recognized along with members of the Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C. for their outstanding work on the Civil Rights Pattern and Practice investigation of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the implementation of the court-ordered consent decree.

In making the award the Justice Department noted that “the team worked thoroughly and timely to investigate allegations of excessive use of force and discriminatory policing by the Seattle Police Department.  Their work produced a findings letter in less than one year, as well as a consent decree that requires comprehensive and monitored reform of the SPD.  The team’s efforts in civil rights enforcement helped move Seattle toward meaningful police reform, and serve as a collaborative model for future investigations.”

The Western District of Washington was one of 44 districts represented at the ceremony which was held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.

Monty Wilkinson, the Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys told the  recipients, “You have persevered, and remained focused and motivated – achieving remarkable results in work that makes a difference in the lives of citizens across our great country.  The vast scope of your collective accomplishments is nothing short of exceptional.”

The Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys’ offices around the country.  For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit www.justice.gov/usao.

Assistant United States Attorney Kerry J. Keefe heads the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington.  Assistant United States Attorney J. Michael Diaz serves as the division’s Civil Rights Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington.  Shannon K. Connery is a paralegal with the Western District of Washington who provided broad support for the case.  Thomas A. Bates is the former Executive Assistant U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington.  He has since left the U. S. Attorney’s Office.

Updated March 20, 2015