Key findings of the federal investigation into the Seattle Police Department:


Unconstitutional: When officers use force, they do so in an unconstitutional manner nearly 20 percent of the time.

High percentage: In 2010, 20 officers accounted for 18 percent of all force incidents.

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Baton use: Officers resort too quickly to the use of “impact weapons” such as batons and flashlights. Baton use is either unnecessary or excessive 57 percent of the time.

Escalation: Officers escalate situations, and use unnecessary or excessive force, when making arrests for minor offenses, a trend “pronounced” in encounters with people with mental illnesses or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Multiple officers: The involvement of multiple officers increases the likelihood of excessive force.

Review: Of about 1,230 officer use-of-force reports from January 2009 to April 2011, only five were referred for “further review.”

Minorities: The Police Department was not found to have engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing. However, of cases determined to involve unnecessary or excessive uses of force, more than 50 percent involved minorities.

Vague policy: The Police Department is hindered by a “vague” use-of-force policy and “inadequate training” that encourage “pervasive underreporting” and incomplete statistics.


The Department of Justice says “long-standing and entrenched deficiencies” have caused or contributed to the “unlawful or troubling” conduct, including:

Deficiencies in oversight, policies and training with regard to when and how officers use force, report uses of force and use impact weapons;

Failure of supervisors to provide oversight of the use of force by individual officers, including appropriate investigation and review of uses of force;

Ineffective systems of complaint investigation and adjudication;

An ineffective early intervention system and disciplinary system;

Inadequate policies and training with regard to pedestrian stops and biased policing;

Failure to collect adequate data to assess biased-policing allegations.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice