DOJ Opens Investigation Into SPD Practices

I know I’m a bit late to the game on this one. Yesterday was kind of crazy.

The Department of Justice is investigating SPD. You can read all about it at in the New York Times (!).

While this might seem like big news, it’s not completely unexpected. The Department of Justice was investigating whether they needed to investigate SPD, and now they are. That seems like a relatively logical step.

Anyways, here’s the press release from the DoJ. My prediction: the feds come back with a few reasonable recommendations for the department, but don’t call for a major overhaul at SPD.

Now, to the release:

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has opened a pattern or practice investigation into allegations of use of excessive force and discriminatory policing by members of the Seattle Police Department (SPD), pursuant to the pattern or practice provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The Justice Department will seek to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by officers of the SPD.  During the course of our investigation, the Justice Department will consider all relevant information, particularly the efforts that Seattle has undertaken to ensure compliance with federal law.  The Justice Department has taken similar steps in a variety of state and local law enforcement agencies, both large and small, in jurisdictions such as New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and California.

Today’s announcement is separate from any ongoing federal criminal investigation involving the Seattle Police Department.

This matter is being investigated jointly by attorneys from the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.  The Department welcomes any information from the community.  If you have any comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us at  or 855-203-4479.