Editorial: Time for police to drop opposition to federal consent decree
Consent decree appeal should end with court rejection.
Seattle Times Editorial
U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman has thrown out a lawsuit alleging that the Seattle Police Department’s new use-of-force policies, required by a federal consent decree, have undermined public safety. Now it’s time for the 100 or so complaining officers to let go of their beef and follow the directives of the Department of Justice and new Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.
The 2012 consent decree was signed by the DOJ and the City of Seattle after federal findings that the department had a “pattern and practice” of using excessive force, as symbolized by an officer fatally shooting a Native American woodcarver and another officer stomping on a prone Latino man. The federal response required reforms to the Seattle Police Department’s use-of-force protocols and to other policing practices.
But a small group of officers sued, arguing that the consent decree hamstrung them, put officers at greater risk and endangered public safety.
Monday, Pechman rejected their lawsuit. It should stop there.
Police often speak proudly of their “protect and serve” mandate, but that service requires following the chain-of-command. And higher law-enforcement authorities say the decree doesn’t put public safety in peril.
With the complaining officers concerns found unwarranted, the plaintiffs ought to abandon their complaint and focus their energies on protecting and serving as their bosses say it should be done.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).