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Law enforcement must protect both public safety and the rights of individuals. This is why arrests and use of force should be last resorts, not first options, for police. The ACLU-WA advocates for stronger laws regulating police use of force, alternatives to arrest and incarceration, and de-escalation practices and training. And to ensure law enforcement is accountable to the people they serve, the ACLU-WA works for greater community oversight, such as independent civilian review boards with disciplinary authority.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011
It is a fundamental principle of a democratic society that public employees should be held accountable for their actions. In May, a Seattle arbitrator undermined that principle by ruling that the City of Seattle’s contract with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild requires the city to withhold the names of police officers who were disciplined for misconduct. Thankfully, City Attorney Pete Holmes has decided to challenge this decision and is fighting to keep this information public.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thinking back to myself at 13 years old, I recall a constant tension between the child I was and the adult I was becoming. Now I try to picture that version of myself being pulled from a classroom and taken to a conference room where two police officers and two school administrators want to question me about a neighborhood robbery. Would I have told officers I preferred they stop questioning me?  Or that I wanted to leave?
Thursday, June 23, 2011
For those of you who took last week’s pop quiz on street speech, you will be glad to know that some area police officers also are brushing up on free speech rights of people on sidewalks and in public plazas.
Monday, May 2, 2011
On April 15th, the Seattle University Law School hosted a CLE (continuing legal education) concerning police accountability and police misconduct issues. All of the speakers covered topics that addressed the current climate for accountability in Seattle and across Washington state. Overall, the presentations were frank, not only in what we are facing as a community and the importance of maintaining our civil rights, but also the nuts and bolts of the law.    
Friday, April 29, 2011
Today, two troubling news stories on medical marijuana are in the headlines in Washington. The first is the federal government's raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane. The second is Governor Gregoire's expected veto of SB 5073, the thoughtful and comprehensive medical marijuana bill passed by the state legislature with leadership from Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Rep. Eileen Cody.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Have you experienced unnecessary or excessive force by the Seattle police in the past few years?  Or feel you were subjected to biased or discriminatory policing or racial profiling?  Then the U.S. Department of Justice wants to hear from you! 
Friday, April 1, 2011
Last December, the ACLU of Washington and 34 community organizations sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation of the Seattle Police Department after a string of troubling incidents involving unnecessary or excessive use of force by officers.  On March 31 we received an answer: DOJ is coming to Seattle.  The move came after a preliminary inquiry in Seattle determined that a full-scale investigation is warranted.
Monday, March 7, 2011
The string of highly publicized incidents involving Seattle Police officers has resulted in community anger and mistrust as well as frustration on the part of the many excellent police officers who serve our city every day.  But the attention also gives City leaders a unique opportunity to make significant improvements in the policies and practices of the Department to ensure that all officers are able to maintain the public peace. 
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Eva’s son died from gang violence.  Every day she lives with an aching desire to hold him again.  But despite her grief, she opens her home to young people in her community, some of whom are at risk to be involved in gangs. A Yakima Valley resident, she wants to keep them off the streets and safe from the violence.   Eva is angry that her son is no longer with her, yet she wants more opportunities to help young people rather than sending them behind bars.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Last week, we learned that the King County Prosecutor decided not to criminally chargeformer Seattle police officer Ian Birk with the murder of John T. Williams. Last month, the Spokane County Prosecutor declined to bring criminal charges against Deputy Brian Hirzel for the murder of Pastor Wayne Creach. Over the past year, we have seen an increase in police-involved deaths in places such as Tacoma, Federal Way, and Gold Bar.  All officers would benefit from improved training to learn how to reduce these deadly interactions.