Seattle City Councilmember Burgess’ statement in response to Department of Justice findings

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Councilmember Tim Burgess

Seattle City Councilmember Burgess’ statement in response to Department of Justice findings

SEATTLE – Councilmember Tim Burgess, Chair of the Council’s Public Safety and Education Committee, released the following statement in response to the Department of Justice findings announced today:

"The Department of Justice findings confirm what many, including myself, have believed for some time—our police department can do better.

"Chief Diaz, the police command staff, every officer and civilian employee of the Seattle Police Department and the elected leaders of our city should embrace this informed, constructive criticism and work quickly to implement fundamental and sustainable reforms. Rebuilding the public’s trust and confidence in the Police Department is an essential and urgent obligation.

"I have great respect and admiration for the good work the officers and civilian employees of the Police Department do every day. The vast majority of our officers do their jobs in a fair and professional manner that meets the high expectations we set.

"At the same time, today’s findings raise concerns about management and oversight inside the Police Department, from the command staff down to first-line supervisors. Over the past 20 years or so, we have gone through repeated evaluations of police accountability. Multiple changes to procedures and rules have been implemented. Civilian oversight of the department has been strengthened. Yet, every few years, the same issues resurface. That’s why I believe so strongly that fundamental and sustainable change must be introduced that will change the culture of the Police Department. The Department of Justice findings can serve as a catalyst for transformation. I expect Chief Diaz and his leadership team will work diligently for this type of sustainable change.

"Earlier this week, my office and the Mayor’s staff began discussions about completing an independent management, organization and operations assessment of the Police Department. In a time of continued and significant fiscal challenges, such an assessment would provide the Mayor and Council with objective and expert recommendations that would allow us to reduce costs without harming critical public safety services. This assessment will also provide insight and recommendations that would help us respond to the Justice Department’s findings and introduce the sustainable reforms we need to see in the Police Department.”

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