Paperwork over patrols? Seattle PD works through DOJ requirements

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 7:54 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 10:45 AM

Some South Seattle community groups are concerned that new Department of Justice requirements for the Seattle Police Department are tying up officers’ time with too much paperwork.

Officers must now fill out time-consuming reports with every “use of force” call. Those reports sometimes take hours to complete with lengthy paperwork and sometimes video and audio reviews necessary. A “use of force” call can range anywhere from an officer-involved shooting to apprehending a suspect for arrest.

"It’s not a very efficient use of an officer’s time if they are writing reports instead of patrolling," said Pat Murakami President of the South Seattle Crime Prevention. He worries the requirements are decreasing the amount of time officers spend patrolling the streets in neighborhoods that are experiencing an uptick in crime.

Captain John Hayes, who oversees the south precinct, says the new process is time consuming but necessary for fulfill DOJ requirements. Hayes says one of more officers will sit in the south precinct to fill out additional paperwork five or six times per week. He says that takes hours out of patrol time every week, because those officers are not replaced on the streets.

Interim Police Chief Harry C. Bailey acknowledges the extra workload.

"We are working thorough this new process as fast as we can," said Bailey. "There will be changes, but it will take some time to implement them."

Murakami suggests using junior officers or staff to fill out reports and have officers review them to save time.

"This is a huge impact on our communities," said Murakami.

Seattle Police are coordinating a community meeting in response to what they consider an uptick in crime in south side neighborhoods. Captain Hayes says there has been an increase in home burglaries, mainly in the Mount Baker neighborhood. Hayes says it was important to schedule the meeting among families in the Mount Baker, Lockmore and Upper Rainier Beach neighborhoods to remind them how to stay safe and prevent crime.

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