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Judge Approves Seattle Police Reforms

Lesley McClurg

A federal judge approved the settlement agreement Friday between the US Justice Department and the city of Seattle on police reform. But US District Judge James Robart made his ruling provisional. He has few concerns that he wants addressed.


Judge Robart is calling for a few tweaks. He says the success of the settlement agreement rests too heavily on an independent monitor that's yet to be chosen. He called the independent monitor the linchpin to making sure police officers stop using excessive force. He emphasized that both the US Department of Justice and the city should not rush the hiring process. The monitor will oversee the terms outlined in the settlement, assure compliance and give progress reports.

The agreement requires a public report every six months. But Robart says that's not often enough. He says the court should be given quarterly reports to ensure proper oversight.

The agreement was announced last month in response to a DOJ report that found Seattle police officers had engaged in excessive force. An attorney from the city of Seattle emphasized that the City still disputes the DOJ's finding but wants to move forward without litigation.

Chris Stearns from the Seattle Human Rights Commission says this is just the beginning.

Stearns: "It's a major moment in Seattle's history. And you know, I don't think everyone is thrilled with what happened, but at the same time there are some pretty important changes that are happening and I think it's still a challenge. The deal is not done."

The agreement will be in place for at least five years. It could be shorter if both parties agree the city and Seattle police have been in compliance for at least two years.

For KUOW news, I'm Lesley McClurg.

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