Seattle Police Department and Center for Policing Equity Release Findings from Policing Practices

The Seattle Police Department today released the Center for Policing Equity’s (CPE) report on Seattle’s participation in the 2014-2019 National Justice Database project (PDF).

CPE’s National Justice Database (NJD) is the nation’s first database to track national statistics on police actions. Police departments eager to better understand their disparities in policing outcomes through standardized data collection and analysis have provided CPE with available data to help assist in charting paths toward more equitable policing.

The Seattle Police Department identified disparities exist within the SPD. To further analyze those disparities, to identify their root causes and to seek remedies, the SPD engaged with CPE to expand its local efforts to the national level. In the time since the Department agreed to participate in the NJD project, SPD has undertaken numerous reforms and has performed its own advanced disparity analyses. The SPD disparity analysis (PDFs Part I and Part II) confirmed there were disparate outcomes of enforcement actions and began to identify potential responses by working with communities.

The NJD report provides a historic baseline for undertaking deeper analysis and working around disparities and strategies. This work is part of the overall effort to inform the re-envisioning of public safety.

The NJD report examined SPD data on stops and uses of force from 2014 through 2019.  Key findings from this report include: 

· Per capita, Native people were stopped nearly nine times as frequently as White people, and Black people were stopped over five times as frequently as White people. 

· Once stopped, 29 percent of Black men and 28 percent of Native men were searched for weapons, compared to 21 percent of White men.  

· If searched, White men were more likely to be found with a weapon than any other group. 

· White people were less likely than Native people or Black people to be arrested at a stop. 

· Black people also experienced higher rates of SPD use of force. Native people and Pacific Islanders were overrepresented compared to their share of the population. 

· Black people were subjected to force at a per capita rate more than seven times the per capita rate for White people. 

CPE made several reporting, data collection, and policy recommendations as well, most of which have been addressed since the data were initially collected and shared. Specifically, SPD has: 

· Implemented a new reporting system that ensures the counting and data on stops and uses of force is more complete and available to the public and researchers in common formats , including dashboard pages on use of force, crime, calls for service, crisis contacts, bias crimes, public records requests, and micro-community policing plan survey results.   

· Changed policy to ban neck and carotid restraints, ensure restrained subjects are in safe positions and monitored, and to emphasize that deadly force is allowable only to prevent against an imminent threat of serious or deadly harm after reasonable alternatives, including affirmative de-escalation where safe and feasible, have been exhausted.   

· In addition to embracing the CPE recommendations and sharing its report, the Seattle Police Department is also launching a new dashboard today that shows arrest data. In addition to data on arrests for all crime types, the page includes details on bookings and limited demographic data. The dashboard does not include data on charges or convictions, though it does include information on whether the crime would fall under the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the King County Prosecuting Attorney or City Attorney. 

“The Seattle Police Department is committed to full transparency, open communication about our data, and addressing all disparities for which the department is responsible,” Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said Thursday. “The CPE report and its recommendations mirror my commitments to ensuring equity for all. The SPD will not hide from the hard work ahead but will embrace our mandate to end bias in policing.”

The Seattle Police Department thanks CPE for the insights and confirmation this report provides – there are clear disparities in the outcomes of police actions.  SPD is eager to undertake more in-depth work to continue to support the Department’s commitment to identifying root causes of disparity in policing and other systems that impact policing. We must address the harm that disparities in the justice system cause to our community, particularly our BIPOC communities.