Seattle Police officers are no longer referring to a crime suspect as a “suspect” and instead use “community member” in reports in order to use less offensive and politically correct language.
Police sources used the term to describe someone who shot three policemen last month after an armed robbery. Police officers involved in the incident were instructed to describe the gunman, who was fatally shot after he fired at the officers, as a “community member” rather than a suspect in the report, KIRO 7 reported.
“I think this is all in an effort to make sure our report writing sounds politically correct,” Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Kevin Stuckey told the news outlet.
Some officers called out the new term, saying it’s actually offensive because of their work with violent suspects.
In the Seattle police force’s reporting system, Blue Team, which is used for police reports and other tasks like the department’s administrative investigations, the word for suspect also changed on multiple forms—but only if police officers filling them find the term offensive.
Seattle Chief Operating Officer Brian Maxey told the outlet that the new term is aimed at improving police reports since calling someone a suspect could be misleading if they aren’t suspected of any crime.
“Similarly, we don’t know or inquire about citizenship status, so labeling someone a citizen is arbitrary,” he said. “Neither term is confusing at all.”
According to Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Kevin Stucky, however, the new term is vague.
“I don’t think you should have a broad stroke like that and call everybody the same thing,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling someone who is a victim a victim, or calling someone who’s a suspect a suspect.”