SEATTLE Seattle Police promise a review of their arrest tactics following an altercation between a police officer and two teenagers.
They were stopped for jaywalking on Monday, shoving an officer before he punched one of the teens.
It turns out, jaywalking stops tend to provoke greater tensions than many other crimes, and a recent report warned Seattle Police that physical confrontations over minor infractions are becoming a dangerous trend.
Seattle is notoriously tough on jaywalkers, yet people still do it all the time.
I jaywalk, said Wade Paradise. I know there's a law, but I just cross when I know it's safe to go.
Last year Seattle Police went so far as to institute a crackdown on jaywalkers. Thirty separate sting operations across the city churned out $56 tickets.
The stated purpose was public safety.
But it's frustrating to many in a city where crime is on the rise and cash flow on the decline.
I think it generates revenue, said Paradise. I think it's a real easy ticket to write because a lot of people do jaywalk.
They've had a lot of shootings, and I think that the focus should be trying to spot those types of situations before they occur instead of jaywalking, said Seattle resident Thomas Harris.
It turns out that situations like we saw Monday have been a concern among Seattle Police watchdogs for years. Independent auditors find that jaywalking tickets specifically tend to spiral out of control.
In an audit of complaints filed against Seattle Police last year for the department's Office of Professional Accountability, State Appeals Court Judge Michael Spearman wrote: On many occasions the initial contact was brought about by an allegation of jaywalking, which escalated when the citizen failed to comply with the officer's order to stop.
In 2007 former U.S. Attorney Kate Pflaumer wrote: It is disturbing to note how many OPA cases begin with a low-level encounter between citizens and officers, over jaywalking for instance.
Both urged the department to increase training in de-escalation techniques.
And in 2007, former Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske reportedly ordered specific de-escalation training.
But we've learned that never happened although after this incident the department is giving it a serious look.
Seattle Police say they do go through four days of mandatory training every year that includes techniques in de-escalation.
Auditor Kate Pflaumer tells us she does not think that is enough.