After a long investigation, the Department of Justice has concluded that police misconduct and brutality is rampant in the Seattle Police Department. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one of the finest newspapers in the country, reports:
The report said police have engaged in a pattern of unnecessary or excessive force that amounts to a violation of constitutional rights. But the Justice Department did not find a pattern of discrimination against minorities.
Investigators found that a small group of officers accounted for a disproportionately large percentage of use-of-force incidents. Also impugned in the report was the department internal investigations unit and a related office, which investigators said “do not provide the intended backstop for the failures of the direct supervisory review process.”
“The systems of accountability are broken,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division…
While Justice Department investigators did not examine the specific, high-profile cases, they conducted a wide-ranging review of the department’s conduct. Investigators faulted the department for poor oversight of use-of-force reporting and suggested concerns of discrimination by Seattle officers remain unanswered.
“Our investigation finds a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing,” the report’s authors wrote.
“The great majority of the City’s police officers are honorable law enforcement professionals who risk their physical safety and well-being for the public good,” the report continues. “However, a pattern of excessive force exists as a result of a subset of officers who use force improperly, and is caused by a number of systemic deficiencies that exist in spite of SPD’s recent reform efforts.”
Noting that the finding stemmed from the officers’ own reports, investigators found that one in five uses of force by Seattle officers was unconstitutional.
The report found that a relatively small number of officers accounted for much of the problem, but that is always the case. It’s not that most police officers are bad, it’s that those who are rarely are held accountable for their actions. When they are accused, the internal investigations tend to be shoddy at best and outright coverups at worst. Even when they are found guilty of misconduct they rarely face any serious punishment. And in the rare instance that a cop is actually fired over such things, the union will fight, often successfully, to get their job back.