Use of Force Reporting and Investigation

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

Purpose

This policy outlines how to categorize uses of force and the process for investigating Type I, Type II, and Type III use of force incidents. 

Revisions

Under the Seattle Police Department's proposed policy revisions: 

  • Pepper balls, which are paint balls filled with pepper spray and shot from a paintball gun, would be added as a Type II use of force option
  • Some joint dislocations and broken teeth are used as examples of potential outcomes of Type II uses of force
  • Additional requirements are added for sergeants and investigators to screen situations that include joint dislocations, broken teeth, or accidental police dog bites 
  • Prohibitions would be removed that stop officers from being required to give statements in administrative investigations if they are also being criminally charge

CPC Analysis

The policy provides a chart that categorizes what kinds of uses of force should be considered Type I, II, and III -- type III being potentially deadly force. However, the CPC has identified potential problems with the way SPD categorizes some force. For example, pointing a firearm at an individual is a Type I use of force. That means it is met with less scrutiny that many other types of force, even though the act of doing so directly leads to police shootings.

Under the policy changes, preliminary investigations into use of force would continue to be conducted by SPD sergeants and officers on SPD"S Force Investigation Team. There's serious questions as to whether these preliminary investigations should be handled by members of SPD, given the potential motivations they may have to find uses of force to be within policy. 

Officers who witness uses of force are only required to report it if the force has not already been reported by other officers. This may not promote CPC and SPD efforts to ensure every officer is required to intervene and report all uses of force they witness regardless of whether other officers have done so. 

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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