Audit of Seattle Police Department disciplinary system released

The Inspector General’s Office found that a “significant number” of disciplinary actions were not recorded in personnel files.

SEATTLE – There are loopholes in the Seattle Police Department’s disciplinary system that affect transparency and fairness for community members affected by police misconduct, a new audit found.

Although the Seattle Inspector General’s office has not observed what is normally considered to be the most detrimental to public trust, the audit found there are loopholes in the system that affect the timeliness, fairness, consistency and transparency of official discipline.

The Inspector General’s Office found that a “significant number” of disciplinary actions were not recorded in personnel files, which may have affected file requests and employment reviews.

Another key takeaway was inconsistencies in recommending additional training, which sometimes resulted in a loophole in accountability for minor policy violations. Suspensions, according to the examination, were not “delivered consistently and in good time”.

In addition, the audit found that individuals who had lodged complaints against the department were not consistently identified by the Police Accountability Office or were not informed of the status of the case in a timely manner.

It was also found that police chiefs showed a “clear preference for lower levels of discipline” when given a proposed area, even if the dismissal was included in that area according to the audit. The reason, the investigation found, could be that these officials are entitled to a prior hearing by the chief while complainants are not given equal opportunities.

The disciplinary system generally appears to take into account and escalate disciplinary sanctions based on an officer’s disciplinary history, “the exam reads.

Vocations are also an area with “great potential impact” on accountability. However, the Office of Inspector General noted that no material disciplinary action was lifted or reduced during the audit. However, only a few appeals were actually heard.

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