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Seattle Police Get High Marks From White, Asian Residents, But Panned By Blacks, Latinos

Seattle police patrol cars.
Flickr Photo/Brittney Bollay (CC BY-NC-ND)

Three out of four Seattle residents think the Seattle Police do a good job keeping the public safe.  But the police get much worse reviews from the city’s African-American and Latino communities. Seventy percent of African-Americans and 62 percent of Latinos think the department often uses excessive force.

Those are some of the findings from a new survey of 900 Seattle residents discussed at a Seattle City Council meeting Wednesday afternoon. The survey was commissioned by the court-appointed team that is monitoring efforts to curb the excessive use of force by Seattle Police.

Seattle Police and the US Department of Justice recently concluded court-ordered negotiations over sweeping reforms on police officers’ use of force. Their agreement is currently under review by a community policing commission. It awaits eventual approval by the federal monitor and a federal judge.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 60 percent of residents approve of the way Seattle Police do their job; 34 percent disapprove.
  • By almost every measure in the survey, African-Americans and Latinos had much more negative opinions of and experiences with Seattle Police than Asian-Americans and whites did.
  • 70 percent of African-Americans and 62 percent of Latinos, but only 43 percent of whites and 31 percent of Asian-Americans, think the police often use excessive force.
  • 28 percent of Latinos and 17 percent of African-Americans, but only 5 percent of whites and Asians, say police have used excessive force on someone they know.
  • A majority of African-Americans think the police often stop people without good reason and use verbally abusive language.

The Washington State Patrol fared much better than Seattle Police, with 74 percent of Seattle residents approving of the state patrol's work and 9 percent disapproving.
The survey's margin of error is +/- 3.3 percent.

Summary of survey results:

Year started with KUOW: 2009