Having come under fire for numerous allegations of excessive force over the past few years, the Seattle Police Department may be making some changes soon. The City Council has unveiled a list of 11 recommendations all aimed at reducing complaints and repairing damage to the Department’s reputation, particularly in regards to the minority communities.
According to the Seattle Times the chairman of the city council’s Public Safety Committee states the recommendations are designed to “stop the erosion of public confidence” in the department. He goes on to state, “We want policies in place that create a culture in the police department where these incidents will not occur and where the effectiveness of officers will improve.
Among the recommendations:
- Speedy review of cases that have the potential to result in criminal charges for police officers
- Mandatory drug testing for all officers involved in incidents including the use of deadly force
- More stringent recruiting and training standards including more training on de-escalation
- Monthly misconduct reports including summary of incidents and officers involved
- Potentially easier recruitment and promotion for people who have attended college rather than the current minimum GED requirement
The Union warns that not all of these changes can be implemented without the bargaining process and the city council recognizes this, stating that some though not all are subject to union approval.
Regarding recent incidences of police brutality and excessive use of force, the United States Department of Justice is investigating whether officers have been engaging in such a pattern, specifically against minorities. Federal involvement has been the request of many activists and concerned citizens over the past several months.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn offered another potential solution to the recent problems, stating the upcoming retirement of about 300 officers will, in essence, clear the ranks and leave room for higher quality recruitment and new officers taking their place. He pointed out that about 80% of the current force live outside the city and that focusing recruitment efforts within the city could help ensure the local citizen concerns are given a voice within the ranks.
There’s little doubt something needs to be done to repair the relationship between officers and the city they patrol. But prevention of future similar problems are crucial as well. One of the recommendations, increased de-escalation training, would be pertinent in ensuring officers really know how to deal with situations and then, once educated further in the practices of de-escalation, their failure to effectively de-escalate could be seen as a disregard to procedures and public safety rather than ignorance of how to best handle the situation.
It’s a noble idea but something tells me the officers involved in recent problems did know how to de-escalate a situation and perhaps got caught up in the drama and emotion of the moment.
Prevention and accountability are crucial in the administration of justice from the patrol up to the bench. Ensuring fair treatment and respect to your Constitutional protections is usually the responsibility of your criminal defense lawyer, particularly when those rights are violated. If you’re facing criminal charges, contact our attorneys today for a consultation on your case.