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Statement from Mayor Jenny Durkan on the Consent Decree

Seattle (June 3, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued the below statement on the Consent Decree, which she discussed earlier with City Attorney Holmes:

“As U.S. Attorney, I witnessed the use of force being used against young men of color, including John T. Williams, who was killed just blocks from the federal courthouse. Community groups demanded action. Based on the voice and unified actions of civil rights groups, I was able to lead the investigation of the Seattle Police Department and helped negotiate and sign the Consent Decree. Not only was the Consent Decree drafted with community, it created the first version of the Community Police Commission. I deeply believe the Consent Decree has brought significant, important, and systemic changes in the Seattle Police Department and has aided in the creation of training, transparency, and new oversight measures when force is used.

“The City has not filed to end the Consent Decree, and I oppose being released from the Consent Decree at this time. The City made clear to the Court that the City knows it still needed to address concerns on discipline and accountability, and even as we have met the required filings of the sustainment plan, I believe that we should pause as our community is rightfully calling for more police reforms.

“I also want to be clear that when I say the Seattle Police Department has made great progress on reforms, it’s true. But saying that doesn’t mean we’re done. Just because we have made real gains does not mean we are finished. No one is more certain of that than Chief Carmen Best. She believes in and demands a culture of continuous improvement. When she sees officers, policies, or procedures that she believes are contrary to the community good, she is the first person to demand change.

“There has never been a larger test of our resolve and commitment to justice. It will also test our accountability system to ensure complaints are investigated by the Office of Police Accountability, policies and practices are reviewed by Office of the Inspector General, and the Community Police Commission is providing meaningful community accountability. And I think both the Court and the public should know about the use of force in demonstrations as well as how the accountability system is working – this is ultimately what can build or break public confidence.

“We need to have community-led a conversation on where they believe the Court should have oversight and where oversight is appropriately moved to the Office of the Inspector General, the Community Police Commission, and the Office of Police Accountability. Change and reform must be continuous. And we must be unflinching in our willingness to build even deeper changes and create deeper trust.”

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