Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

December 21, 2011 at 12:29 PM

ACLU to McGinn: Address Justice Department concerns

The ACLU of Washington and numerous community groups have sent a letter to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn urging him to “make a strong public statement” by outlining his plans to address the issues raised by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in its report into the Seattle Police Department.

The letter, signed by Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington, says issues identified in the report – excessive use of force, insufficient skills in de-escalating conflict and lack of internal accountability – are “longstanding problems” in the department.

“The City’s leadership needs to set a tone indicating that it accepts the DOJ report’s recommendations,” the letter states. The ACLU letter also asks that “community stakeholders” be included in discussions about any solution to the problems identified by the Justice Department.

On Monday, McGinn told The Seattle Times that the city will begin talks to forge a legally binding agreement with the Department of Justice to address the report’s findings. McGinn said the talks are aimed at creating clear guidelines for officers about when and how to use force.

“We’ve always understood that when the DOJ comes to town, at the end of that discussion you need to have a discussion about a resolution,” he said Monday.

The Justice Department report, released Friday, said Seattle police routinely and illegally use excessive force. The Department of Justice found “deficiencies in SPD’s training, policies and oversight” and that “starting from the top, SPD supervisors often fail to meet their responsibility to provide oversight of the use of force” by officers.

The report concluded that fully one of every five instances of force by Seattle officers violates the Constitution’s protections against illegal search and seizure.

McGinn and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz initially reacted to the report with skepticism, but took a more conciliatory tone during Monday’s interview with The Times.

In December of last year, the ACLU wrote to the Department of Justice requesting the investigation of the Police Department following a series of high-profile incidents it described as examples of excessive force,  including the fatal shooting of John T. Williams by Officer Ian Birk.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: ACLU of Washington, Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle Police Department

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►