City, DOJ formally sweep SPD’s crowd-control controversy into consent decree process

This summer there have been two legal threads related to SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons:  two similar lawsuits asking for restrictions; and the Department of Justice asking for and receiving a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking implementation of the City Council’s ordinance prohibiting the police department’s use of crowd control weapons. Earlier this week there was activity in the first thread; today there was an important update in the second.

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Robart grants DOJ request to enjoin Council’s crowd-control ordinance (UPDATED)

Earlier this evening, the Department of Justice filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Seattle Police Department from implementing the City Council’s ban on crowd-control weapons.  This follows Judge James Robart’s refusal earlier this week to prevent the ordinance from taking effect this weekend. UPDATE: in a hearing this evening, Judge Robart indicated that he will be granting the DOJ’s request, enjoining implementation of the Council’s ordinance, and rolling the status quo back to the order that Judge Richard Jones made on June 12. UPDATE 2: here is the temporary restraining order. UPDATE 3: added Mayor …

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Judge Robart leaves Council’s ban on crowd-control weapons in place, for now

In a nine-page ruling this afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart declined to stop the City Council’s ban on crowd-control weapons from going into effect later this week — at least for the moment. Robart did acknowledge that the ordinance will need to be reconciled with SPD’s court-approved policies on crowd control and use of force, but at the urging of the Office of Police Accountability and Office of the Inspector General he will wait until they provide their recommendations next month before wading into that issue.

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“Defunding SPD” is going to be a lot harder than anyone thinks

Yesterday’s acknowledgement by the city that the Council’s ban on “less lethal” weapons violated the terms of the 2012 Consent Decree points to a much larger issue: efforts to “defund” and re-imagine the Seattle Police Department will face a complex web of legal, labor, and contractual impediments that will drag out the process for several months or possibly years.

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Ordinance banning “less lethal” devices violates Consent Decree, says DOJ and police monitor

In an official notice filed with the U.S. District Court, today the City of Seattle acknowledged that it has been advised by the Department of Justice and the court-appointed police monitor that on June 15th when the City Council passed a sweeping ban on most “less lethal” devices used for crowd control (including tear gas and blast balls), it violated the Consent Decree.

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It’s time to face reality: the consent decree didn’t work.

As our country tries in this moment to face its chronic issues with structural racism and over-policing (what Stephen Colbert called “our nation’s pre-existing condition”), Seattle has a unique perspective on the problem. The city was busted in 2012 for biased policing practices after an investigation led by U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan; it admitted the problem, signed a consent decree, and began many years’ hard work of reforming its practices under court supervision. If everything had gone according to plan, the city would have completed the two-year sustainment period by now (having been found to be in initial compliance in …

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