If feds don't prioritize police reform, Seattle will | KUOW News and Information

If feds don't prioritize police reform, Seattle will

Apr 5, 2017

Seattle officials say they will continue to reform the police department, despite the federal government's changing law enforcement priorities.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this week that his office will review existing reforms to ensure they meet the Trump Administration's goals. Those include improving officer safety and morale. That widespread review could include Seattle, which has been under a federal consent decree for five years to improve its police department.

Seattle's City Attorney Pete Holmes says the city’s reforms are years in the making and that Sessions can’t bring them to a halt.  The reform process in Seattle is being led by a federal judge, who has spent years on the effort.

Holmes: "This change in administration is not going to change our progress. If you don't address trust concerns, if you're not making sure that you're using the best police enforcement measures, that's when we're all going to be less safe, including police officers."

Holmes said Seattle will keep police reform as a priority, but that the Justice Department could make the work more difficult financially.

Holmes: "You know they do have a budget under their consent decree, and if they zero it out we will not have technical guidance in implementing some of these best practices, the data analytics, where we've been getting some assistance from the federal government.”

Seattle's reform efforts are focused on use of force and civilian oversight of police.

It's not clear what actions Sessions plans to take, but he has previously said broad investigations of police put officer morale at risk.

Dozens of cities are under similar federal investigations that began under the Obama Administration.