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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

Topic: Department of Justice

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May 29, 2014 at 1:47 PM

U.S. attorney: SPD officers’ lawsuit ‘without merit’

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said a lawsuit filed Wednesday by more than 100 Seattle police officers over a new use-of-force policies is “without merit.” She said there will always be those in an organization who will resist change because it is different. But she said police reforms will proceed. Durkan called a rare, impromptu news conference the…

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Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Jenny Durkan, Seattle Police Department

May 28, 2014 at 4:58 PM

SPD officers file federal suit challenging use-of-force policies

More than 100 Seattle police officers filed a federal lawsuit today, alleging that new use-of-force policies imposed under a consent decree with the Department of Justice (DOJ) unreasonably restrict their right to protect themselves and others from apparent harm and danger. The lawsuit claims the the use-of-force policies “unreasonably restrict and burden their right to protect…

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Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Police Officers' Guild

March 27, 2014 at 4:21 PM

SPD’s Jim Pugel to retire

Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel has decided to retire, effective Monday, ending a 31-year career in which he served a stint as interim police chief during one of the most tumultuous times in the department’s history. Pugel’s departure comes only months after he sought to position himself for the job of permanent chief. But his chances…

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Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Jim Pugel, Seattle Police Department

February 28, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Fugitive sex offender with Washington ties captured in Virginia

The Associated Press DENVER — A child rapist who became the subject of a nationwide manhunt last week after he sliced off his GPS monitor and disappeared from Denver was arrested Friday, U.S. marshals said. Eric Hartwell, 51, was taken into custody in Norfolk, Va., at a motel on Military Highway, the U.S. Department of Justice said….

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Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Child rape, Department of Justice, fugitive

January 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Big changes at SPD as Nick Metz restored to assistant chief

In a stunning move, Nick Metz has been returned to the rank of assistant chief, Interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey announced in an interview this morning. “I thought he was the best person for the job,” said Bailey, who named Metz to head the Field Support Bureau. Bailey did not elaborate on the move,…

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Comments | More in Government, The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Harry Bailey, Nick Metz

January 17, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Judge OKs new SPD policies for stops, searches and biased policing

A federal judge today approved new policies for Seattle police officers aimed at addressing the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s concerns over biased policing and how and when officers stop and frisk people. The policies, effective Jan. 31, represent another major step in the court-ordered reform effort, setting new standards that will be felt throughout the city. “These…

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Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Department of Justice, police reform

January 7, 2014 at 2:56 PM

New interim chief to head Seattle Police Department

Harry Bailey, who retired as an assistant police chief in 2007.

Harry Bailey, who retired as an assistant police chief in 2007.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has decided to replace Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel with a former SPD official, Harry C. Bailey, who retired as an assistant chief in 2007, according to sources briefed on the mayor’s plan.

Murray is expected to announce his decision Wednesday, adding another chapter to tumult and change that has rocked the Police Department since the Department of Justice found in December 2011 that officers too often resorted to the use of excessive force.

Murray, through his spokesman Jeff Reading, declined comment this afternoon.

Murray is also expected to announce the formation of a search committee to find a permanent police chief, with a fast-track goal of making a hire in three to four months, according to sources.

It was not immediately clear what will happen to Pugel, who was named as interim chief in April to replace retiring Police Chief John Diaz. Pugel, through a spokesman, declined comment this afternoon.

Pugel, who joined the department in 1983,  previously held the rank of assistant chief, but he has no automatic right to return to that position. Under civil-service rules, he could retain the rank of captain.

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Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Police Department

December 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Judge approves sweeping new use-of-force policy for Seattle police

The Seattle Police Department has reached a milestone — and a major stepping-stone — toward complying with its settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over reforms.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart has accepted a new use-of-force policy negotiated between the DOJ and the police department aimed at radically changing the way SPD officers use force and how they report it. The DOJ, in a news release, said the 70-plus page use-of-force policy requires all but the most minimal force be reported by police.

“Today, the Seattle Police Department took another step forward in our efforts to provide effective, humane and constitutional policing to our city,” Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel said in a statement.

The new policy replaces a five-page policy that was in place when the DOJ investigated the SPD and found that officers were quick to resort to force and routinely used too much when they did.

According to the DOJ, the new policy for the first time defines “force,” and details when it is appropriate, and when it isn’t, and provides new detailed reporting requirements. For instance, officers for the first time will have to report when they intentionally point a firearm at someone.

The DOJ news release says the “review and investigation of force will be more thorough than ever before” and that the policy emphasizes de-escalation techniques — including alternatives to the use of force — and “gives officers clear guidance on the use of specific tools,” ranging from pepper spray and batons to firearms.

It includes a new requirement that all officers be armed with at least one less-than-lethal tool. The policy comes with four new procedural manuals detailing weapon-by-weapon guidance, new reporting guidelines and the policies for the a new Force Investigation Team, which will roll out on incidents involving the highest-levels of force and officer-involved shootings.

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Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Department of Justice, Seattle Police Department

November 27, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Longtime SPD assistant chief Nick Metz told to step aside

Assistant Chief Nick Metz, one of the most visible and longest serving members of the command staff in the Seattle Police Department, is being removed in the wake of a highly critical report on the progress of police reforms, according to sources familiar with the move. As part of continuing shake-up in the top ranks, Interim…

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Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Federal monitor, Nick Metz

November 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Judge denies citizen commission formal role in SPD reforms

A federal judge today denied a citizen commission’s request to formally intervene in court-ordered Seattle police reforms and refused to grant delays the panel had requested to offer its views regarding policy changes.

But in a 19-page order, U.S. District Judge James Robart permitted the Community Police Commission (CPC)  to file memorandums with the court “commenting on any issue or motion” raised as part of the City of Seattle’s settlement agreement with  the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing in the Police Department.

Robart also granted “compromise” delays offered by federal attorneys to allow the CPC, which was created as part of last year’s settlement agreement, more time to comment on bias-free policing, brief detentions of citizens and the Police Department’s community outreach.

However, Robart denied the CPC’s request to extend deadlines to comment on use-of-force training curricula, an early-intervention system to identify problem officers and policy manual for the Police Department’s internal-investigation unit, the Office of Professional Accountability.

Robart’s ruling represented a victory for federal attorneys, who objected to the CPC’s request to intervene, saying it would cause undue delay in the reform. They also fully objected to some of the delays sought by the CPC.

In his ruling, Robart wrote that “permitting intervention would likely result in undue delay without a corresponding benefit to existing litigants, the court, or the process of reform because the existing parties are zealously pursing the same ultimate objectives as the CPC.”

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Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Community Police Commission, Department of Justice, Seattle Police Department

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