Community Trend Survey Shows Continued Improvement at SPD

Community perceptions toward the Seattle Police Department continue to improve. The number of people who approve of the job the department is doing increased 12 percent over the last two years at 72 percent in 2016. Most significant improvement is among African-Americans and Latinos.

Today the Federal Monitor released results of the Seattle Police Community Trend Survey measuring community perceptions of the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The survey found that SPD’s overall performance rating continues to improve, up 8 percent from 2015 to 72 percent. Seventy-six percent of people are more likely to say that SPD is keeping them safe.

A summary of the survey findings can be viewed here.

Of particular note is a significant improvement in how communities of color view SPD; 62 percent of African Americans, for example, view SPD positively compared to 48 percent just last year.

“The report commissioned by the federal monitoring team underscores the progress being made by the Seattle Police Department in addressing the gulf that exists between officers and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “And we continue to work to repair the trust with our police department. Earlier this month, we sent the strongest police accountability proposal in Seattle’s history to the federal judge for a review. Once we hear from Judge Robart, we will quickly send this reform package, which includes permanent and meaningful civilian oversight, to the City Council for their input and approval.”

“Nothing is more important than community trust,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “This latest survey shows exciting progress, and affirms our commitment to providing fair and equitable police services to our community. It is a testament to the men and women of the Seattle Police Department, who have demonstrated their ability to adopt new methods, and it is also a testament to the community who has been so willing to partner with us moving forward.”

Other key findings:

  • Few people report being victims of excessive force from SPD in the last year. One percent of people say they have been victims of excessive force in the past year. That includes less than one percent of Latinos and African Americans.

 

  •  Fewer people are reporting problems with SPD from their personal interactions. People who are stopped by SPD are more likely to approve of the way that stop is handled (71 percent approve) than they were in 2013 (65 percent) or 2015 (70 percent). This includes all-time high numbers among people who had non-traffic stops (60 percent approve), African Americans (58 percent), and Latinos (65 percent), all groups which have consistently trailed the citywide numbers.

 

  • Less than one percent of Seattleites say they were victims of SPD racial profiling in the past year, statistically unchanged from the previous year. This includes three percent of African Americans,  one percent of Latinos, and less than one percent of Asian Americans.

 

  • Perceptions of racial profiling and excessive force are starting to drop. People are more likely to perceive SPD treats people respectfully than in the past, and they are less likely to perceive SPD uses excessive force, verbal abuse, racial profiling, or racial slurs as often as they perceived in 2013. That’s a change from 2015—in 2015 fewer people reported being victims of those incidents, but the citywide perception of their frequency hadn’t yet changed.

 

The SPD will continue to work collaboratively with the community our Federal partners and the Monitoring Team to be a national model for reform and constitutional policing.