Federal monitor: Seattle police improving, but need more work

SEATTLE -- City leaders got a progress report Tuesday on how well Seattle police are changing their methods to cut down on excessive force complaints, and the reviews were mixed.

The 22-page report assess the kick-off to how well the police department is embracing what could be years of reforms.

Tuesday's talk gave members of the Seattle City Council an early feel for whether the changes are being well received or strongly resisted.

Merrick Bobb is overseeing the changes, and part of his job is to ensure that reforms stick to the timeline laid out by a federal judge.

"Overall, I think my assessment is the department is making reasonable progress," Bobb said.

The city agreed to federal oversight of the police department following a 2011 civil rights investigation that found officers routinely used excessive force.

Speaking to the council, Bobb outlined the successes and shortcomings so far.

"I think the overwhelming majority of our police officers want to do the right thing," said Councilman Tim Burgess.

Bobb said the department did a good thing when it developed new polices to review use-of-force complaints, and he said interim police chief Jim Pugel is doing a fine job pushing the changes.

On the other side of the coin, Bobb said resistance to the agreement can be found at all levels of the department. He also said commanders need to do a better job getting rank-and-file officers to understand what's expected to change under the reforms.

"In the absence of clear explanation there have been a number of urban myths or scary stories," Bobb said.

The monitor also raised serious concerns about the department's firearms review board and his access to it.

Bobb's next report is due in six months. .