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Protest review recommends Seattle police rebuild trust, modify weapons use

The protests and riots during the summer of 2020 are now impacting city policy and how to handle those types of situations better.

SEATTLE — A review into the Seattle Police Department's actions during summer 2020 protests has concluded the department must rebuild trust with the community, improve communications and modify its use of less-lethal and chemical weapons in a crowd.

Seattle’s Office of Inspector General for Public Safety released its second “Sentinel Event Review” report Monday, which examines the protests and demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police in May 2020.

The OIG review committee is made up of SPD officers and representatives, BIPOC community members as well as analysts who help with the data.

In the 73-page review, the OIG panel offered 26 recommendations after taking a detailed look at the Seattle Police Department's response during the six-day period between June 2-7, 2020. It was during this time when protestors gathered at SPD’s barricaded East Precinct. It quickly became a “hot” spot with tensions escalating around it.

During that specific time period, the report noted the eroding trust between SPD and the community. 

“Without working with protesters to understand their goals and work toward mutually agreeable solutions, the department continued to make tactical decisions that did not de-escalate the situation,” the report says.

“One of the biggest recommendations to take from the report is prevention," said Mirosalva Meza, inspector general for public safety. "Which means having SPD begin building bridges now with different communities so that trust can be established before the events happen.” 

Meza added, “This way, if a protest takes place, liaisons will already be able to communicate to help de-escalate situations if necessary.”

The Seattle Police Department has already implemented some of the recommendations from the OIG’s first report, which was released in July.

A third report focusing on the days and actions between June 8 and July 2 centering around the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone is expected to be released in the coming months.


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