The Seattle City Council is taking the unusual step of asking a federal judge to review its proposals for limiting police use of crowd control weapons including tear gas, blast balls, and pepper spray.
Tuesday, the council public safety committee voted to put its draft ordinance up for review by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, the federal judge overseeing the Seattle Police Department consent decree put in place nearly a decade ago after findings of bias and improper use of force.
Over the summer, the council passed a ban on the use of chemical and explosive crowd control weapons. Weeks later, Robart issued a temporary restraining order regarding the council’s ban and last week the judge admonished the council for not turning to the court to review its efforts that could be impacted by the consent decree restrictions.
Kshama Sawant representing Capitol Hill and District 3 was the lone committee member to vote against the review.
The new proposed city policy would give SPD access to “blast balls, pepper spray, 40mm sponge-tipped projectiles” and pepper balls “that emit a chemical irritant when fired” if used by “trained officers” when facing a crowd or protest with a “substantial risk of injuries or substantial harm to property,” KUOW reports.
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