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Press Release

Survey of Community Attitudes towards Seattle Police Department Filed in Federal Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Survey Finds Increased Approval Rating for Seattle Police Department


          SEATTLE – As part of the consent decree between the Justice Department and the city of Seattle, a scientific poll conducted by national polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research was filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.  The poll, which was commissioned by the federal monitor with input from the parties, measures community attitudes towards the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and found that SPD’s performance ratings continue to improve.

          According to the poll, the number of people who approve of SPD has increased to 72 percent, up from 60 percent in 2013 and 64 percent in 2015.  Much of that improvement is among African Americans (49 percent approval in 2013 to 62 percent now) and Latinos (54 percent in 2013 to 74 percent now).  At the same time, SPD’s disapproval rating has decreased from 34 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2016, and fewer people are reporting troubling interactions between officers and Seattle residents.

          The poll follows similar surveys conducted in 2013 and 2015, which included input from the Community Police Commission. 

          “Public trust is a necessary foundation for lasting and effective police reform,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “The good news is that this most recent survey shows continued positive trends among many Seattle residents.  The survey results showing increased approval of SPD, and fewer reported incidents of excessive force and bias policing are especially encouraging in light of the high-profile incidents and difficult community-police relationships in other parts of the country.  That said, it is important to recognize the continued differences in attitudes and experience that the survey shows in communities of color here in Seattle.  As part of the consent decree driven reform process, the hard work of identifying and addressing any unwarranted disparate impacts on these communities must continue.  I am grateful for the continued dedication of so many SPD officers and community members – including the work of the Community Police Commission and other community organizations – to fostering an environment of openness, mutual trust and respect.  The work is hard but absolutely essential to the life of our city.”

          “Constitutional, community-oriented policing strengthens public trust,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “The encouraging signs of improved community-police relations in Seattle, including in communities of color, show what can happen when residents and officers engage in the tough, vital work of rebuilding trust and solving problems.  We look forward to working with Seattle as it continues to implement police reform and enhance public trust.”

          Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted 700 live cellphone and landline telephone interviews with adults 18 and older in Seattle, with an additional 95 interviews among Latinos and 105 interviews among African Americans. 



Updated October 24, 2016

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