Federal monitors cost millions, with disputed results. Seattle's police watchdog was a case in point.

Federal consent decrees install court-appointed monitors to oversee reforms agreed to by a police department and the U.S. Justice Department after federal officials have found a department violates people's civil rights. In Seattle, a long-running monitor program oversaw great improvement in the police department's use of force. But the project turned so acrimonious that the monitor called the department a failure and the department said the monitor lacked accountability and a sensible yardstick to measure success. The Biden administration has revived the program nationwide but is studying ways to fix it.

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