The Department of justice released a report on the SPD. So far it seems like the elected officials are saying the right things, but there’s a lot of hard work to make sure that things improve. So, while it might be tough for the police, from the rank and file up, to accept this it’s also a great opportunity to improve the department.
And opportunities like this don’t come along very often, so I hope the police will embrace it. It can be tough to hear you need to change. And for many, the first inclination may be to recoil, to make excuses, to figure out why it isn’t so bad. But I hope we can move beyond that, because it is so bad. Because,
- When SPD officers use force, they do so in an unconstitutional manner nearly 20 percent of the time;
- SPD officers too quickly resort to the use of impact weapons, such as batons and flashlights. When SPD officers use batons, 57 percent of the time it is either unnecessary or excessive;
- SPD officers escalate situations, and use unnecessary or excessive force, when arresting individuals for minor offenses. This trend is pronounced in encounters with persons with mental illnesses or those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is problematic because SPD estimates that 70 percent of use of force encounters involve these populations.
And we have a chance to fix it. We have the chance to take a serious look and make policing better in the city. The cops on the street can either fight it or they can embrace it, but these opportunities don’t come up very much.