- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2014

Police in Seattle say new rules stemming from a settlement with the Justice Department over their alleged excessive use of force have now tipped the scales in favor of criminals and that officers are now being unduly hampered in performing their jobs and carrying out arrests.

The city settled in January with the Department of Justice over the federal allegations of excessive force and constitutional violations, NBC News reported.

But police say the terms of the settlement — that police are severely restricted in how they might physically deal with suspects — aren’t sitting well with officers, and they’ve launched a lawsuit in federal court to turn back some of those new rules, NBC said.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 126 Seattle police officers, NBC News reported. It claims that the settlement is preventing them from even using “reasonable and effective force” in high-risk situations and forcing police to “take unnecessary risks.”

Among those risks: Police now have to “under-react to threats of harm until we have no choice but to overreact” and that this scenario means “that officers and citizens will get killed or seriously injured,” NBC News said.

The suit names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as well as several employees of the Justice Department and officials with the city of Seattle and the police department.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who’s among the named defendants in the suit, put out a statement: “The Seattle Police Department is under a federally mandated court order, in part because of a disturbing pattern of unnecessary use of force and other forms of unconstitutional policing. The police department will comply with that court order. The City of Seattle will not fight the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This is not the 1960s.”

The lawsuit asks the judge to issue an injunction against the new police policies and for compensatory damages for lost time and wages from disciplinary actions that may have come as a result from the policy, NBC News reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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