December 22, 2011 in Region

Seattle police chief told to begin reforms

Agency accused in report of using excessive force
Dana Rebik McClatchy
 

SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday ordered Police Chief John Diaz to implement the U.S. Department of Justice reforms contained in a scathing report that accused Seattle police of using excessive force.

In the letter to Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, McGinn said, “The process of change cannot wait. This morning, I ordered Chief John Diaz to begin implementation of reforms outlined in the Department of Justice’s report. We will also convene a public review panel to oversee the implementation of these reforms.”

The DOJ report released last Friday said Seattle police officers’ use of force is excessive nearly one in five times.

At a news conference Wednesday with the police chief, McGinn said, “I think you can see from our actions, even before we received a report, we began instituting reforms. We are committed to a highly professional police force that treats everyone with dignity and respect and eliminates excessive use of force and biased policing.”

Diaz said although he wants to find out how the Justice Department reached their conclusions on excessive use of force, he clarified he does not doubt the data.

“That was the wrong impression if I gave that impression, that somehow we weren’t taking this seriously. I hope this shows the commitment the department has for this community,” Diaz said.

The mayor and police chief’s comments just hours after the ACLU and more than three dozen community groups sent a letter urging them to take action.

Jennifer Shaw of the ACLU said, “There’s no question public trust has been damaged. Every moment the mayor does not make a stand for making the recommendations in this report, any dismissal of the data hurts his credibility and the police department’s credibility.”


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