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SPD Statement on OPA Investigation into Evacuation of East Precinct

The Seattle Police Department appreciates the depth and thoroughness of the Office of Police Accountability’s investigation in this matter. SPD recognizes its 2020 response to protests – especially in the weeks after George Floyd’s murder – negatively impacted many people of Seattle. We continue to learn from the events of last year and work to ensure SPD is committed to continuous improvement and innovation.  

In the months since this investigation was launched, SPD has been listening to the concerns of community members and has adopted many new tactics, especially those related to crowd control, including: 

  • Reducing the SPD’s visible footprint around crowd events to avoid potential escalation from an SPD presence 
  • Clarification of the rights, roles, and identification of volunteer medics, media, and legal observers 
  • A more robust statement of purpose that embraces Seattle’s approach to facilitating public assembly, over and beyond what would be required under a strict First Amendment analysis  
  • Emphasizing de-escalation and force modulation responsive to changes in crowd behavior following an order to disperse  
  • More robust emphasis on crowd intervention tactics that focus on isolating and arresting law violators within an otherwise peaceable assembly 
  • Providing consistency in required warnings around the use of less-lethal tools.  

The turmoil outside the East Precinct during the summer of 2020 presented the SPD with opportunities to learn and improve. The Department’s revisions since then incorporate recommendations made by members of the community and our accountability partners, including the Office of Police Accountability, Office of the Inspector General and the Community Police Commission. The Seattle Police Department appreciates these valuable partnerships and acknowledges the future of public safety is something we need to create together.