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Justice Department Releases Investigative Findings on the Seattle Police Department

December 21, 2011
Source:  U.S. Department of Justice

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law.  A letter detailing the findings was delivered to Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz.

The investigation, launched on March 31, 2011, and conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, focused on whether SPD engages in unconstitutional or unlawful policing through either (1) the use of excessive force or (2) discriminatory policing.  The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that SPD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  The Justice Department does not make a finding that SPD engages in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing, but the investigation raised serious concerns that some of SPD’s policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in unlawful discriminatory policing.  These practices undermine SPD’s ability to build trust among segments of Seattle’s diverse communities.

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