SEATTLE — The New York Times on Saturday published a video of Seattle police undergoing de-escalation training, with some officers seemingly opposed to a reduced use of force that is required under the new reforms.
The trainer told the officers in the session that approaching a civilian with their hands on a weapon or making too much eye contact unnecessarily could escalate a situation. “Keep your hands visible at all times,” he says in the video.
One of the officers said that’s good advice for suspects and that officers want to see their hands first.
One of the other officers was more blunt.
“Last week, there was a guy in a car who wouldn’t show me his hands. I pulled my gun out and stuck it right in his nose and I go, ‘Show me your hands now!’ That’s de-escalation.”
A third officer seemed to agree with him.
On Monday, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said she “became aware” of the video over the weekend and that she referred the incident to the Office of Professional Accountability to investigate to see “if the use of force incident referred to in the video was reported and within policy.”
“Comments made by training instructors will also be reviewed,” she added.
“Reform is not easy,” she said, “but I remain enthusiastic that we are at the forefront of police reform … We are addressing decades of institutional culture and embedded practices. This change sometimes requires difficult conversations.”