Seattle cops fighting DOJ changes in court

SEATTLE (KRQE) – The Department of Justice has laid out the problems with excessive force it sees with APD, but the exact solutions still need to be hammered out by the city and the feds.

Those solutions could end up looking a lot like what was imposed in Seattle after a DOJ investigation found that city’s police department had a problematic use of force pattern. In December, a judge approved a new use of force policy for Seattle PD.

But now some Seattle cops are fighting back, filing a federal civil complaint against the city and DOJ, claiming that use of force policy puts their lives at risk.

In the lawsuit, brought by more than 120 SPD officers, cops claim that the new use of force policy is “overly complicated and contradictory.” They say because of that, officers are too hesitant to use reasonable force.

According to the complaint, that new policy “effectively creates hesitation and paralysis by analysis that puts officers, suspects and the general public at greater risk or injury or death.” It also slams civilian oversight, lamenting that officer’s actions are improperly second guessed by “inexperienced, untrained civilians.”

The SPD cops who filed the lawsuit say the DOJ’s changes have backfired in Seattle.

“Instead of creating effective and constitutional policing in Seattle, DOJ has empowered its criminals to openly defy legitimate police authority, and made the police and public significantly less safe…”

The complaint also claims police officers weren’t at the negotiating table or properly consulted when the new guidelines were hammered out.

As of Wednesday night, the US Attorney’s Office hasn’t responded to a request for comment made Wednesday evening. However, the DOJ did tell officers here in April that changes are needed.

“What our findings do mean is more needs to be done by the city, and by the police department to ensure accountability and to give you the tools, training and guidance that you need to enforce the law vigorously while defending the public’s right to be free of excessive force,” said Jocelyn Samuels with the DOJ’s civil rights division.

Mayor RJ Berry’s spokesperson Erin Thompson released the following statement to News 13 late Wednesday evening:

We have not reviewed the situation in Seattle, but we do feel that broad-based community and officer feedback is critical to this process. That’s why we have and will continue to engage in community wide discussions. As we work with the DOJ our goal will be to create reforms and an agreement that work for the community and the police department.

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