The Seattle City Council took steps to cement efforts to reduce bias shown by police against communities of color and marginalized groups by including them in the municipal code, a first for a major city in the United States.
The policies prohibit officers from engaging in biased policing and creates a legal remedy for victims, allowing them to file a civil complaint against the city of Seattle if the violation occurred within the past three years.
It also mandates training on the policies and data collection for Terry stops — brief detention of a person by police for suspicion of criminal involvement that doesn’t rise to the level of probable cause required for an arrest — and traffic stops. That data must be available for audit.
City Council President Bruce Harrell said that the legislation was important because it provided assurances that efforts to improve the practices and standards of the Seattle Police Department will not wane after federal oversight of the department ends.
The department has been under federal observation since the city settled with the Department of Justice in 2012 after the DOJ concluded a nine-month investigation into policing practices.
Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez described the legislation as a “first step” in an ongoing process to make sure that the police department treats all people equally.
Prior to the legislation passing, the federal monitor issued a report stating the department had decreased the use of excessive force, but that bias was still a problem.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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