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Most federal oversight of Seattle Police Department ends after more than a decade


SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Police Department has achieved “full, sustained and lasting compliance” with most of the provisions of a federal settlement agreement that was intended to transform the department, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge James Robart announced the ruling on Wednesday, The Seattle Times reported.

The ruling brings an end to court oversight of police reforms in Seattle, with the exception of two areas. Robart said he would retain jurisdiction over crowd control, including tactics and use of force, and officer accountability.

Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police department since DOJ investigators in 2011 found officers were too quick to use force and too often escalated encounters to the point of using force.

It has been a difficult path to compliance with the federal consent decree, Robart said. The decree was established with an agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the police department in 2012.

Robart has had the final say on sweeping reforms reaching into every aspect of Seattle policing. He said the details of the ruling will be made public on Thursday.

“This is a day to celebrate,” police Chief Adrian Diaz said on Wednesday. “The judge highlighted the hard work of the officers.”

Mayor Bruce Harrell said the judge’s ruling “is a critical milestone in our efforts to reform policing.”

The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked the judge in March to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decadelong reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations.

Officials said at the time that the use of serious force was down 60% and the department was using new systems for handling people in crisis, responding to complaints of biased policing, supervising officers and identifying those who use force excessively.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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