Seattle police have held a solid reputation for their work with people with mental illness, the department's programs having been lauded in some academic journals and even by military researchers. But the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)'s review of the Seattle Police Department's use of force, released Friday, may take some of the shine off. The review, which included 1,230 internal use-of-force reports and hundreds of interviews, depict a department with inadequate training or resources to calm unstable people..
..resulting in the use of batons and Tasers when talk might have worked better.
The DOJ report found that an estimated 70 percent of use-of-force incidents by Seattle police involve people with mental illnesses or who are impaired by drugs or alcohol. And it faulted officers for often escalating incidents that stem from the type of petty crimes that unstable people are commonly accused of.
"In other words, officers are trained to win conflict, but not how to avoid it," according to the report.
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