Using Force

Make your voice heard, submit comment on SPD's proposed policy changes

Purpose of this policy

The policy broadly defines when force can and cannot be used in interactions with members of the public. The policy also specifically prohibits certain actions and outlines situations that require officers on scene to request medical assistance for an individual that force has been used on. 

Revisions SPD is proposing

The Seattle Police Department's (SPD) proposed revisions to this policy include: 

  • Officers would be prohibited from intentionally kneeling on the neck of an individual officers are trying to take into custody.
  • Officers would be prohibited from using tire deflation devices on moving vehicles.
  • Proposed updates to the policy would require officers to issue a verbal warning prior to using deadly force, except in situations where such a warning before discharging a weapon may not be feasible. 
    • Situations, as outlined within the policy, could include when giving a warning would compromise officer safety or the safety of others.
    • If the officer does not make a verbal warning, they are required to document their reasoning for foregoing the warning.
  • Updates to the policy expand the situations in which officers will automatically request medical aid for individuals that are harmed during their contact with police.
    • These only apply if the individual who has force used on them remains on the scene of the incident. The newly added situations are:
      • Every canine bite as a use of force
      • Every use of force encounter in which the individual who has force applied on them mentions difficulty breathing
      • Uses of pepper spray

Read SPD's proosed revisions in full here.

CPC Initial Analysis

  • The policy update expands the responsibilities of officers to ensure that medical aid is sought for individuals they use force on. However, there are many places where the policy updates do not go far enough to ensure the safety of all individuals who may come into contact with SPD members. 
  • The policy still allows for officers to use force on restrained individuals, pregnant people, preadolescent children, elderly people, and "physically frail or disabled" people.
  • There is language in the portion of the policy about issuing verbal warnings prior to the use of deadly force that could cause confusion if there are multiple officers on scene. There is no direction about who should be responsible for deciding to give or withhold a verbal warning prior to a use of deadly force, which could potentially put everyone involved at risk. 
  • The policy still allows for canine bites as uses of force.

Comment on this policy

We want to know what you think. Whether or not you agree with the CPC's assessment, you can submit your thoughts on SPD's proposed policies by using the form below, emailing us at OCPC@Seattle.gov, or contacting us any other way. Due to SPD's current deadlines, we ask that you do your best to submit your thoughts by Tuesday, January 26th. 

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