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Feds: Seattle Police Now Have Building Blocks For 'Longstanding Reform'

The Seattle Police Department has made “significant process” in an effort to reform a culture of excessive use of force and racially-biased policing, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said on Tuesday.

“We now have the building blocks to have significant longstanding reform,” said Durkan during a news conference held following a meeting with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels.

But all officials made clear: the work is far from done.

“Reform is not a static destination; it is a process. And what we have to develop here is the culture of the police department,” Durkan said.

“No one thinks this process is going to be easy. Reform is difficult everywhere,” said Samuels, adding the Department of Justice will continue to monitor SPD to ensure lasting results. “We hope and expect Seattle will become a model for the nation.”

The mayor said recent personnel changes made by Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey helped speed up the court-ordered reform.

“For the first time in the history of the Seattle Police Department, we have three people of color and two women on the command staff. It’s pretty amazing it’s taken this long,” said Murray, adding the changes will make easier the job of the incoming permanent chief.

“This isn’t about just getting through the process of the settlement agreement; this is about laying down the foundation to better the police department,” added Bailey. “We can all look back and say, ‘This is a police department we can be proud of.’”