Use of Force Weapons

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

Purpose of this policy

The policy discusses the weapons Seattle police officers are allowed to use on the job and lists some basic rules for using them. 

Revisions SPD is proposing

  • Under SPD's proposal, the police would be able to continue to use tear gas, explosive blast balls, and all other weapons currently in their arsenal without any substantial new restrictions. 
  • SPD's proposed changes would formally allow police to use pepper ball launchers, an additional crowd control weapon. 
    • SPD has been using them without any publicly available policy in their manual. SPD's proposal would thus formalize SPD's the use of the weapon. 
  • The policy makes marginal changes to how canines can be used as a force option.

Read SPD's proposed policy changes in full here.

CPC intial analysis

  • SPD's proposed changes would reverse the Crowd Control Weapons Ban passed by the City of Seattle in June. 
  • The Seattle Police Department uses weapons that are not included in this policy. For example, SPD is currently using pepper ball launchers, a gun that shoots paint balls filled with pepper spray, even though they are not currently listed in this policy. Tear gas is also not listed in this policy, despite the fact that SPD has used it against protesters. SPD says its policies for using tear gas are held within its SWAT policy handbook, which is not publicly available. 
  • SPD's proposed changes would undermine Seattle's democratically-enacted Crowd Control Weapons Ban and goes against years of CPC recommendations. In 2016, 2017, and 2020 the CPC issued recommendations to SPD calling for more limitations on SPD's use of crowd control weapons - with a particular focus on weapons like blast balls and tear gas. The proposed changes disregard those recommendations.
  • After a summer in which community spoke out against SPD's use of these weapons, SPD should not be trying to go around City ordinances to increase the size of their arsenal. That does not promote community trust. 
  • While SPD's adjustments to their canine policy are marginal improvements, serious questions remain about whether SPD should continue to use dogs as weapons at all. 

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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