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SPD Files Disparity Report – Part II with US District Court

Today, the Seattle Police Department filed Part Two of its Disparity Review Report, along with a revised Early Intervention Policy, with the federal court. The Disparity Review is the next step in the department’s novel approach toward assessing the disparate impacts of law enforcement actions. This report is the follow-up to a report filed and approved in May 2019, where the parties agreed to a methodology for assessing disparity.

Together, these two reports confirmed the common knowledge that disparity exists in policing, as it does in almost every aspect of our society. The SPD sought to identify those types of interactions with the highest rates of disparity, and to then work with affected communities to identify possible changes to policies, trainings, and communications, that could potentially reduce the identified disparity.

The Department held a series of community meetings to pilot the approach of “community reviews” to examine videos and reports of the types of incidents – street stops with frisks and the pointing of firearms – with heightened levels of disparity. These reviews of an initial sample of incidents, along with internal SPD reviews of the incidents, identified a series of steps the department will undertake to evaluate their effect on disparity. These include the following:

  • Enhance the training around standards for a subject sufficiently matching a description of a wanted person
  • Review policies and trainings concerning when a pointing of a firearm is required/recommended
  • Additional resources for call takers/dispatchers in the 911 Call Center to identify and mitigate potential implicit bias communicated during calls
  • Continue to hold and improve on the pilot process of community review sessions

ORIGINAL POST Published 05/02/2019

SPD Releases First of Two Reports on Disparity

The Seattle Police Department filed with the US District Court the
first of two disparity reviews to demonstrate sustained compliance with the Consent Decree and further transparency into SPD’s policing practices.

Under the Consent Decree, SPD has filed quarterly reports as well as reports on use of force, crisis intervention, stops and detentions, bias free policing, and community engagement.

This report reflects SPD’s commitment both to critical self-evaluation and to ensuring that the service we provide is informed by data-driven practice and analysis. We know disparities still exist and any place we see disparity is important to us, and we must work to address it.

Over the study period, SPD answered nearly a million calls for service, comprising 2.1 million associated officer dispatches. This report dives into data around two specific instances where officers engaged in 19,500 Terry stops and 4,400 uses of force.     

While the numbers in this report represent rare interactions with SPD, we must examine these interactions, which provide focused direction for further research and solutions. Numbers alone without more context do not tell us everything, which is why we need to look closely, honestly, and transparently at all contributing factors.

In the second of its planned reviews, SPD will seek to further refine the analysis by identifying additional situational factors that may further explain the disparities observed.    

By understanding the differences, we aim to find practical applications to address disparate outcomes and improve public trust and confidence.