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Chief Diaz Statement After Release of Memphis PD Video

“I have been monitoring the recent death of a community member in Memphis, Tennessee. This incident has caused great concern at the police officer response and was so horrific the Memphis police chief immediately terminated the officers involved. What happened to Tyre Nichols should not have happened, and I grieve his loss.   

“The Seattle Police Department still has work to do to ensure the equitable treatment of all people. However, I also want to highlight the significant progress this department is making to be responsive to community needs, address public safety, and hold officers accountable for their actions. I am committed to having the right policies, procedures, training, and accountability processes in place to ensure what happened to Mr. Nichols never occurs in our city because of changes we’ve made within SPD.  

“Across the department, we are 100% focused on providing equitable public safety services for all people. Despite historic reductions in staffing in recent years, Use of Force by SPD officers decreased 48% in 2021 compared to 2015. Complaints to the Office of Police Accountability fell by 50% in 2022 compared to 2019.  

“SPD also acknowledges the vision of Mayor Bruce Harrell’s One Seattle requires fair public safety, and our policies reflect the recommendations by members of the community and our accountability partners, including the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Community Police Commission.  

“Everyone at the Seattle Police Department understands people may be inspired to voice their on-going concerns about the criminal justice system in Memphis, Tennessee and throughout our country, and we support the First Amendment rights of everyone. SPD simply requests that, if you gather, please do so peacefully while respecting the rights of others.”

The City of Seattle and Seattle Police Department are committed to ensuring public safety for all communities, including equitable and accountable policing. Recent changes made to advance this vision include: 

– Requirement of implicit bias and active bystandership training  

– Banning of neck restraints, choke holds and no-knock warrants  

– Before the Badge training so SPD recruits build community relationships before attending the law enforcement academy  

– Equity, Accountability, Quality (EAQ) Risk Management for a data-driven model of identifying and addressing disparities – including racial disparities – in real time  

– Reducing specific traffic stops from primary to secondary stops  

– Emphasizing de-escalation and force modulation responsive to changes in crowd behavior  

– Providing consistency in required warnings around the use of less-lethal tools  

– Reducing the SPD’s visible footprint around crowd events to avoid escalation that may result from an SPD presence  

– 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  

– More robust emphasis on crowd intervention tactics that focus on isolating and arresting law violators within an otherwise peaceable assembly  

Further, laws have also been passed at the state level – many adopted even earlier by SPD – to protect the public from police brutality, including:  

– The Duty to Intervene: (Washington State Senate Bill 5066) which requires officers to intervene when they witness another officer use excessive force. 

– De-Escalation: (Initiative No. 940) which requires officers to complete violence de-escalation training and mental health training. 

– Misconduct and Decertification: (Washington State Senate Bill 5051) which expands the ability to revoke a police officer’s certification. An officer fired by another agency and/or decertified will not be hired by SPD.