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City of Seattle and Department of Justice File New Accountability Agreement as SPD Transitions to Next Phase of Reform 

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the joint filing of a new compliance agreement between the City of Seattle and the United States Department of Justice, as the Seattle Police Department prepares to transition into the next phase of sustained reform. The agreement recognizes the progress made by the Seattle Police Department, identifying sections of the federal Consent Decree that have been satisfied and detailing remaining steps that must be completed to achieve a full settlement of the case. The agreement filing will now be considered by Federal Court Judge James Robart. 

“My highest Charter responsibility is delivering constitutional policing and effective public safety to every person in every neighborhood,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “When we advocated for a Consent Decree over a decade ago, it was with the knowledge that SPD could do better – and needed to do better – for the communities it serves. Today’s joint filing recognizes the excellent progress our officers have made and our ongoing commitment to keep moving forward. We know there remains work to be done to reduce disparities in policing, and we are committed to doing so as a learning, growing organization, with a department culture where accountability, continuous improvement, and innovation are always at the center.” 

The federal monitor’s 2022 assessment found that SPD had sustained compliance with the Consent Decree’s use of force, crisis interventions, stops and detentions, and supervision requirements. Since the implementation of the Consent Decree in 2012, SPD has advanced significant efforts to reform its policies, training, and practices and strengthen connections to the community, working alongside city leaders, the Community Police Commission (CPC), the Office of Inspector General for Public Safety (OIG), the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). 

“The City Attorney’s Office is charged with representing the interests of the City in court,” said City Attorney Ann Davison. “The proposed Compliance Agreement filed today achieves the right balance for the people of Seattle by recognizing the great strides that SPD has made, while ensuring that SPD continues to improve in the remaining areas identified by the Monitor and the Court.” 

As described in the new agreement, the City must continue to show that its police accountability system – including the OPA, OIG, and the CPC – is sustainable, effective, fair, and responsive to the people of Seattle and our officers. The City must further revise SPD’s crowd management policies previously approved by the Court in 2021. 

In 2023, the monitor will work closely with the OIG to evaluate the City’s continuing compliance, as well as to ensure that the OIG is equipped to step into the monitor’s role moving forward. To assist the OIG in doing so, the mayor is immediately adding three additional staff specialists to OIG. 

“This milestone reflects the steadfast commitment of all members of the Seattle Police Department to the ongoing spirit of innovation and iterative improvement cemented in place through the Consent Decree, but in particular, speaks to the dedication of men and women of our Patrol Operations – the backbone of our department – who continue to meet demands for service with honor, integrity, and compassion,” said Seattle Police Chief Adrian Z. Diaz. “Every day, I am honored and humbled to serve this department as its Chief, and today is a moment of extraordinary pride for our entire organization.”   

Examples of the progress SPD has made since the implementation of the Consent Decree:  

  • Use of force is very rare occurring in less than 1% of all police encounters with the public.  
  • According to the federal monitor, 99% of all uses of force are consistent with SPD policy, a standard that exceeds constitutional requirements.  
  • The City and SPD have taken steps to ensure the use of force reforms are lasting, such as creating the OIG to provide robust and independent oversight of the SPD.    
  • SPD has implemented new systems to respond to people in crisis, pairing mental health professionals with specially trained officers who prepare detailed assistance plans for individuals they regularly interact with.  
  • The OIG completed a Sentinel Event Review of the 2020 protests, engaging with community members, the CPC, and the SPD, to create recommendations that will influence revised crowd management policies.