Seattle police are now suing over use of force limits. Seattle, in response to federal accusations of excessive force made against the police department enacted legislation passed in January that was meant to define what an officer could or could not do when having to apply force during the course of an arrest. Seattle officers are now suing the city, claiming that the law prevents them from effectively doing their jobs.
The lawsuit has been made against not just the city of Seattle, but also against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Mayor of Seattle Ed Murray, Seattle attorney Pete Holmes and federal monitor Merrick Bob. Officers explained that these sorts of limits will cause more harm than good, stating that these new use-of-force policies will lead to more instances of overreaction.
Seattle police are suing over use of force limits imposed upon them by the city in response to what the federal government has described as a disturbing pattern of abuse of power and excessive force cases brought against the Seattle police department. Seattle officers state that these new restrictions are unconstitutional, and that the inability to use force deprives them of their right to defend their lives and the citizens that they are meant to protect.
This action however has not been approved by the police union president, and that these officers are acting on their own volition. These officers have as of now declined to hire a lawyer, choosing to represent themselves. The mayor of Seattle in response has stated that the new use-of-force policies are federally mandated, and that the order will be complied with as agreed to.
Approximately 120 officers have banded together to take part in this lawsuit. According to reports, the Seattle police department has been monitored extensively by the federal government since 2012, prompting the federal government to promote crackdowns on excessive force allegedly perpetrated by Seattle police officers. What makes the issue more pressing is that most excessive force has been seemingly directed against minorities.
The officers involved in the lawsuit are demanding a complete overhaul of the policy along with financial compensation for lost wages, time, and wrongful disciplinary action. No trial date has been set, and as of now, negotiations or settlements to be made out of court have not been discussed.
With Seattle police suing over use of force limits, the question of police brutality and the issue of what is and what isn’t excessive force has been the subject of heated debates in the United States. Excessive force has been a controversial issue, especially since Rodney King’s trial and the race riots that followed upon conclusion of the trial. Legislation such as this is simply a response to the concept that there exists a delicate balance between the acknowledgment that a police officer’s job is difficult and dangerous, and the cold hard fact that there are moments where a police officer’s use of force is far more excessive than is required. The mayor of Seattle has stated that this is not the 1960s, and that issue of civil rights cannot be ignored especially by the police department.
By David Jones