Policy Work Areas
The need for change: Some people, particularly people of color, are disproportionately affected by law enforcement. Issues of unequal treatment involving stops, arrests and use of force are troubling. In some cases, this may be the result of intentional bias, but it also can be the result of unintentional bias in systems and institutions. Both types of bias may cause police to treat people differently, which may be counterproductive and unfair. The 2011 SPD Community Survey reported that 63 percent of Seattle respondents believed racial profiling was a problem for the Department.
In-Car Video Recordings
The need for change: In-car video recordings have not always been reliably available to confirm or contradict written police reports or witness observations of controversial incidents. They also have not always been reliably available for training purposes. Recordings have not been reliably available due to a combination of department policies and technological limitations and challenges.
Stops and Detentions
The need for change: One of the most important freedoms guaranteed by the
Constitution is the ability to move freely and not be subjected to unwarranted searches and seizures. In order to ensure that there is strong support and confidence by the public in their police officers, it is critical that officers do their work without bias and within the parameters of the Constitution. The DOJ investigation concluded that SPD policies and training failed to clearly explain when an officer may legally stop, detain or search people short of arrest. DOJ found that, in some instances, these policies created the risk that SPD officers would make illegal stops and searches. The 2011 SPD Community Survey reported that 46 percent of Seattle respondents believed there was a problem with SPD stopping people without good reason.
Use of Force
The need for change: A pattern of using unnecessary or excessive force was a key finding of DOJ’s investigation of SPD. DOJ found reason to believe that excessive force was disproportionately an issue in cases involving people of color, and that force too often was used when it was not warranted or to an unwarranted degree. DOJ also found reason to be concerned about force used against people with mental illness or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The 2011 SPD Community Survey reported that 72 percent of Seattle respondents believed there was a problem with SPD using excessive force.
Proposed Policy Changes
- Bias-Free Policing Policy Draft
- SPD Use of Force Policy Draft
- Stops and Detentions Policy Draft
- In-Car Video Recordings Policy Draft