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Seattle cop to young black men: Use the system to protect your rights

Assistant Chief Perry Tarrant of the Seattle Police Department.
City of Seattle
Assistant Chief Perry Tarrant of the Seattle Police Department.

Perry Tarrant wants young African Americans to know their rights in interactions with police.

But Tarrant, assistant chief at the Seattle Police Department, told KUOW’s Emily Fox that just as important is knowing what to do if you think you’ve been wronged by the police.

“Very rarely do you find people, particularly in communities of color, that will follow up if they believe their rights have been violated,” said Tarrant. “They’ll tell their friends, but they won’t tell the system.”

And that makes fixing the system difficult, Tarrant said.

Striving to ensure that justice is applied equally is Tarrant’s mission as president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE.

The group is meeting here this weekend. Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz spoke Friday. At a community meeting Saturday at the Northwest African American Museum, Tarrant and other NOBLE representatives will speak about how citizens can help fix the system.

It’s a problem that Seattle is familiar with. The city’s police department is under federal oversight on its use of force.

Tarrant believes there has been progress.

“Seattle has made huge strides to come into the 21st century, and in several areas is actually held up as a model for the changes and programs that it has undertaken,” he said.

The NOBLE presentation at the Northwest African American Museum is at 6 p.m. Saturday.