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Chief O’Toole on Survey Results of Community Attitudes Towards Police

SEATTLE – A recent survey conducted by national polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research as part of the consent decree between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Seattle to measure community attitudes towards the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has found the overall approval of SPD improving, disapproval of the department decreasing, and fewer troubling interactions between officers and Seattle residents, particularly among African Americans and Latinos, notably in the area of excessive force.  The scientific poll, filed with the U.S. District Court today, was commissioned by the federal Monitor with input from the parties. The poll follows a similar survey conducted in 2013.

A summary of the survey can be found here.

This poll, along with a rigorous examination of how police services are delivered in Seattle and other qualitative reviews of SPD’s community relations, including work conducted by the Community Police Commission, will inform an overall assessment of community perceptions and public confidence that will be filed by the federal Monitor with the Court in December.

“Community trust is critical to effective policing and at the heart of the Settlement Agreement,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “The men and women of Seattle Police Department continue to enhance community trust every day. While much work remains, this latest survey shows measurable progress. Our collaborative reform efforts with our partners on the Monitoring Team, the Department of Justice, and community stakeholders are on track and moving full speed ahead.”

“The goals of true and lasting police reform must include both increased public safety and public trust.  They go hand in hand,” said Annette L. Hayes, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.  “According to this survey, there are positive signs that Seattle residents are giving SPD higher marks for its work, and, perhaps most encouraging, there are far fewer people reporting problematic interactions with SPD.  As important, the people of Seattle continue to believe that SPD is keeping them safe. Still, this data helps identify areas where there is work to do, particularly in the African-American and Latino communities, where positive perceptions and improved interactions lag the rest of our community.”

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted 692 live cellphone and landline telephone interviews with adults 18 and older in Seattle, with an additional 67 interviews among Latinos and 141 interviews among African Americans.  The survey can be found here.