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Press Release

Statement by Annette L. Hayes, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington

          Today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed its response in support of the City of Seattle’s “Motion to Declare It in Full and Effective Compliance with the Consent Decree.”  The United States concludes that the City has met its obligations under the first phase of the Consent Decree based on (1) the ten assessments conducted by the Monitor – assessments that covered all of the requirements of the Consent Decree – and (2) the Department of Justice’s own independent review of the City’s compliance.  The Court’s continued oversight in phase two of this effort will ensure that the City continues to comply as required under the Decree.


The following is a statement from Annette L. Hayes, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington:


“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.


We have not come to this conclusion lightly.  Career civil rights attorneys and police-practices experts have spent more than five years investigating SPD, overseeing the creation of new policies and training, and independently reviewing the relevant data and the results of assessments conducted by the Court-appointed Monitor that examined the implementation of the Consent Decree’s requirements.


We know that real reforms can’t just happen on paper.  They must be carried out in practice.  That is why Department of Justice civil rights attorneys and police reform experts, along with the Monitor, took a hard look at the way officers are using force on the street -- whether there is a real commitment to de-escalation, whether new approaches to crisis situations are resulting in better outcomes, and whether internal supervision and independent civilian-led accountability systems are sufficient to address any shortcomings


This conclusion does not mean the police department is perfect, nor does it end the hard work required under the Decree.  There is more to do and issues that need to be addressed.  Rather, this milestone represents the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.  Under the terms of the Consent Decree, SPD is required to sustain compliance for at least two years before the Court, Monitor or the Department of Justice could agree that termination of the Decree is appropriate.


I appreciate the hard work and commitment of SPD’s officers and leadership, the elected officials who have made police reform a priority, and, of course, the strong support of – and demands from – the community and the ongoing engagement from the Community Police Commission.  Continued engagement by all concerned in the next phase of the reform efforts and beyond will be critical to ensuring further progress under the Consent Decree.”


Press inquiries regarding the DOJ/SPD consent decree should be directed to Colleen Bernier at (206) 553-7970 or Ms. Bernier will identify the appropriate person to respond.

Updated October 13, 2017

Civil Rights
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