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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

Topic: use of force

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October 20, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Judge dismisses suit by SPD officers on use-of-force reforms

Sweeping away all claims, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 100 Seattle police officers seeking to block new, federally mandated use-of-force policies. “It does not shock the conscience to see certain de-escalation procedures imposed on police officers in an effort by their Department to avoid a pattern or practice of excessive use of force,”…

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Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Seattle Police Department, U.S. District Court, use of force

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

June 3, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Federal Way police officers’ use of force in traffic stop to be investigated

A traffic stop that turned into a brawl between two Federal Way police officers and a Kirkland woman who says she has cognitive and hearing disabilities is being investigated. The incident began when a Federal Way police officer pulled over 36-year-old Megan Graham for talking on a pink cellphone while driving on the evening of…

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Comments | Topics: Federal Way, Kirkland, use of force