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Seattle Police Department Seeks to End Consent Decree

Posted by Steve Karimi | May 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Most all criminal charges that end up going to trial begin with an arrest by the police. Because of this frequent interaction of the police and the general public, it is very important that police act in a safe and ethical way. In fact, many of the protections that constrain police activity are written into the United States Constitution itself.

However, the Seattle Police Department is currently seeking to be released from a consent decree that instituted reforms on the department and provided oversight of the activities of the department.

The Settlement Agreement

In 2012, a Settlement Agreement was reached between the US Department of Justice and the City of Seattle. This agreement came about after a report, created by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, found that the Seattle Police Department was engaging in patterns and practices of excessive force in violation of the Constitution and federal law. As a result, the City of Seattle and the DOJ entered into the Seattle Consent Decree.

The Seattle Consent Decree consists mainly of a 76-page document that called for a number of various reforms to be made by the Police Department. Among these reforms were new requirements for reporting and investigations, training programs for bias-free policing, and the institution of more direct lines of communication and supervision.

Importantly, the document also established a test for the dismissal of the requirements under the Decree: after the Department has been found to be in “full and effective compliance” and remains that way for a period of two years, the decree will be dismissed by the court.

Seattle Police Department's Pleas for Dismissal

On January 10, 2018, Federal Court Judge Robart found that the department was in full and effective compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree. This started the two-year clock in which the department needed to maintain this standard. In a statement, Seattle Police Chief Best claimed that

This department is a different place than it was nearly a decade ago. The SPD has become a national leader in de-escalation, our response to people in crisis, and internal and external oversight of policies and practices.

What This Means for You

It is difficult to predict what the Seattle Department will look like without the oversight that is provided by the Consent Decree. Police will still need to follow the rules regarding warrants and probable cause for arrests but without oversight of the department, there is no telling what might happen.

It is clear what the removal of the regulations means to Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan, however.

There wouldn't be this cloud hanging over us of, ‘Are we in compliance, are we out of compliance?' Now, we can effectively go about our profession without the threat of civilian monitoring.

But what does "effectively" mean to him? How will that play out? Will the police return to practices implemented before the Consent Decree?

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by the police, it may become more important now than ever to have the assistance of an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney.

Contact Steve Karimi Law Office Today

If you feel that there may have been an issue with your arrest, having an experienced and dedicated attorney on your side can make all the difference. Steve Karimi has handled thousands of cases as a King County prosecutor and is now ready to put that experience to work for you to help you defend against your own charges. For a free consultation, call 206-621-8777.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

Seattle Defense Lawyer

Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.