Reviewing use of Force

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

Purpose of this policy

This policy covers the review of uses of force, including general principles, command review, the Force Review Unit, the Force Review Board (FRB), expedited summary review for specific firearm discharges, and investigations and review of force used during crowd management events.

Revisions SPD is proposing

  • Adds that use of force on restrained persons is highly scrutinized.
  • Removes a section on FRB providing monthly reports on use of force.
  • Adds a memo by the Assistant Chief documenting the expedited summary review.
  • A few changes to use of force crowd management intervention and control:
    • Acknowledges that during long periods of civil unrest this process may not be feasible in a timely manner. Will consult with OPA, OIG, and CPC to determine if review goals are better achieved through alternative processes.
    • Mentions the OIG Sentinel Event Review (but says nothing else).
    • Adds that Incident Commanders and Officers will document uses of force.
    • Adds that any Commander directing type I force is responsible for reporting it.
    • Adds that any Commander directing type II force will complete a Blue Team entry at the highest level of force used. Officers will justify and document all reportable uses.
    • Under investigation of force during crowd management event, it makes an exception that type III uses of force will be investigated by regular Force Investigation Team.

Read SPD's proposed policy changes in full here.

CPC initial analysis

  • The process laid out in this policy is convoluted, long, and difficult to digest. It seems far from a timely and transparent accountability process.
  • Use of force on restrained persons should be prohibited, not highly scrutinized.
  • Reviewers recommend a course of action, including referrals to OPA, training, or supervisory counseling or mentoring. It is unclear how these are followed up on.
  • Blue Team needs to be defined and explained within the policy.
  • The Chief annual analysis of reported uses of force by SPD should be public.
  • Timelines should be shorter. For instance, the precinct captain is responsible for forwarding reports to FRU within 30 days of the date force was used. This much time only erodes trust.
  • It is unclear why the FRB monthly report on use of force was removed.
  • It is also unclear how the OIG Sentinel Event Review is part of this process.
  • On the Force Review Board:
    • The Assistant Chief of Professional Standards will select the standing members of the Board, which consists only of representatives from SPD Bureaus/Sections. Community members and oversight bodies (CPC, OPA, OIG) should be included. If they cannot be voting members, their presence and avenues for input should be codified.
    • Votes and findings of the board, as well as meetings, should be public. 
    • The considerations that need to be addressed should include equity and bias.
    • The Chair refers "serious" violations to OPA. Serious is not defined, and all violations should be referred.

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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