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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 7, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 14
Ed Murray vs. Jeff Sessions,
Round II
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Ed Murray vs. Jeff Sessions,
Round II

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Less than a week after filing a lawsuit challenging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over immigration policy, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray defied Sessions again, this time over policing.

On April 4, Sessions said his Department of Justice would review - and potentially set aside - consent decrees the Obama administration had negotiated with a number of local police departments over charges of misconduct. If Sessions goes ahead with his plans, it could halt police reform in many American cities.

At an April 4 press conference, Murray and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole said Seattle would stick to the reform plan established under a 2012 consent decree.

'Our progress under the Consent Decree cannot be undone by empty bureaucratic threats. Our police department is well into the process of reform and will continue this work,' Murray said.

'We are too far along for President Trump to pull us away from justice,' the mayor continued. 'In Seattle, the Department of Justice cannot change our consent decree unilaterally. Instead, our consent decree is firmly in the hands of the Hon. Judge James Robart, who has shown his commitment to reform from the very beginning and whose guidance we have followed throughout the reform process. Our monitor, our police chief, and our entire police department, our city council and city attorney, our community police commission, our community at large, and I will not step back from this work.

'We have made tremendous progress and become a national leader on constitutional policing, while improving trust between our department and the community, thanks to the dedication of the men and women of the Seattle Police Department. Regardless of what announcements are made by the Department of Justice, we look forward to announcing more of that progress in the coming days.'

Robart, the U.S. district judge overseeing the reform of Seattle police, is the same judge who halted enforcement of Donald Trump's Muslim immigration ban in February.

Chief O'Toole said she also remains committed to the terms of Seattle's consent decree. 'The Seattle Police Department has established itself as a national leader in reform,' she said.

'Over the past three years, we have implemented new trainings to greatly reduce use of force and enhanced accountability throughout our department,' O'Toole continued. 'As we achieve compliance with the consent decree, our success is a credit to our officers, and reflects real and measurable progress. We remain committed to constitutional and effective policing in our city.'

Seattle's consent decree - which required the city to begin a process of police reform and retraining - followed a 2011 Justice Department investigation that found a pattern and practice of racial bias and excessive use of force on the part of local police officers.

Legislation to bring Seattle into full compliance with federal requirements is pending at the Seattle City Council, with a vote likely in May. Some members of Seattle's Community Police Commission, although appointed by the mayor, have criticized the measure, saying it will not go far enough in mandating a transparent civilian complaint process.

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Washington Supreme Court affirms LGBTQ discrimination has no place in courtroom
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Do something about hate crimes, Maria Cantwell tells Trump
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Ed Murray vs. Jeff Sessions,
Round II

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