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Addressing police accountability nationwide in wake of Tyre Nichols killing

Local and state leaders are pushing continued police accountability and reform legislation.

SEATTLE — Outrage and grief continues after Memphis Police released a video showing officers beating Tyre Nichols, who died in the hospital three days later.

Five officers are facing murder charges and re-igniting the conversation around the culture of policing. 

Leaders in Seattle’s black community echoed a need for change.

“We can hold our police accountable by all being involved in making a change,” said Victoria Beach, chair of the African American Advisory Council.

One recent change Beach is involved in is the Before the Badge Program. SPD recruits receive training to help build relationships and a better understanding of the people they will serve.

In a statement, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said he’s committed to making sure what happened to Tyre Nichols never happens in Seattle. The statement laid out multiple changes made by the department including de-escalation and mental health training.

Other changes came in the wake of George Floyd's murder in 2020, including a state law that requires an officer to intervene when they witness another officer using excessive force.

“I think what we saw in Memphis was officers not de-escalating first but exasperating the situation. I think Seattle is at a place where they are learning from what they've seen over the past couple of years to do things better and differently,” said Pastor Harvey Drake of Emerald City Bible Fellowship.

More police accountability legislation is making its way through the statehouse. A proposed bill would give the attorney general authority to investigate and sue law enforcement agencies to create reforms if they violate the state constitution.

Another proposed bill would allow victims of police violence to receive compensation for injuries and attorney’s fees and end qualified immunity for police. Both pieces of legislation are in the Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.

“Change doesn't just start or happen because an incident like this happens or a murder happens, change has to be continuous,” said Marriam Blocker, who also works with Beach on police reform.

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