EDITORIAL: Seattle Police reform is better late than never

The Asian Pacific American community and the Seattle Police Department have never had the best relationship. In 1974, the state of Washington created the Commission on Asian American Affairs to address issues concerning the Asian Pacific American community. In 2010, the commission released a report, which included their policy recommendations. What was at the top of their list of needed changes in the criminal justice system?

Providing training to officers in cross-cultural competency. Appropriate translation and interpretation services. Working to ensure diversity at all levels of the criminal justice system.

These should have been recommendations in 1974, not in 2010. But, despite decades of work, these problems still persist. This is completely unacceptable.

As a community, we need to take advantage of the opportunity we have right now. Because of the settlement with the Department of Justice, SPD is being forced to change, and we need to make sure that they keep us in mind while they do it, because it’s fairly obvious that our community has only been a second thought for a long time.

Now, it’s time that the police department becomes a member of our community, not just an outsider. It’s time for SPD to understand our culture and for us to understand theirs. It’s time that Asian and Pacific Americans stop being the most underrepresented racial or ethnic group in the police department. It’s time for a fair share of our officers to be promoted to command positions.

We need to apply more pressure now than ever before, because even though it’s taken decades to get to where we are now, we can’t afford for change to take decades any longer.  (end)

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