U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has honored five current and former members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle for their work in bringing about reforms at the Seattle Police Department.
The team was key to investigating allegations of police abuse in Seattle and then negotiating a federal court-monitored consent decree implementing broad reforms in the department’s policies involving use-of-force and crisis-intervention.
Holder recognized assistant U.S. attorneys Michael Diaz, Rebecca S. Cohen, Kerry J. Keefe and Thomas A. Bates and paralegal Shannon K. Connery “for their outstanding work on the Civil Rights Pattern and Practice Investigation of the Seattle Police Department and the implementation of the court-ordered consent decree.”
The Justice Department noted “the team worked thoroughly and timely to investigate allegations of excessive use of force and discriminatory policing by the Seattle Police Department. Their work produced a findings letter in less than one year, as well as a consent decree that requires comprehensive and monitored reform of the SPD.
“The team’s efforts in civil-rights enforcement helped move Seattle toward meaningful police reform, and serve as a collaborative model for future investigations,” the DOJ said.
The case was one of several recognized by Holder at the 30th annual Director’s Award ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
In prepared remarks, Holder said the honorees they “represent the very best ” at the U.S. Department of Justice.
“This case is a national model,” said outgoing U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. “At each stage the team worked to ensure the voice of the community was heard, the important work of the police was advanced and our neighborhoods were made more safe. The relationship between police and the people they serve is critical to civil society.”
Keefe heads the Civil Division of in the Seattle U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Diaz is the division’s Civil Rights coordinator. Bates is former executive assistant U.S. Attorney for the district. He has since left the office.