15.020 - Charge-By-Officer (CBO)

Effective Date: 07/01/2018

15.020 – POL

This policy outlines the Charge-By-Officer (CBO) program to be used by patrol officers and patrol sergeants to refer completed misdemeanor investigations (a preliminary investigation which has been finished with the available on-scene resources and requires no detective follow-up) to the Seattle Law Department.

1. Upon Developing Probable Cause for an Eligible Crime, Officers May Elect to Use CBO Instead of Booking the Suspect into Jail

Per Manual Section 6.010-Arrests-5, a sergeant must screen the incident prior to the release of a suspect who has been arrested.

See Manual Section 6.180-Searched-General 2(e) for information on search incident-to-arrest.

a. CBO Shall Be Used for Completed Misdemeanor Investigations Involving Adult Suspects Who Have Not Been Booked into Jail

See 15.020 – PRO – 1 (Utilizing CBO)

b. CBO Shall Not Be Used Under Certain Circumstances

- DUI arrests

- Incidents involving juvenile suspects

- Retail Theft Program

- Felonies

- Traffic crimes and infractions

- Prostitution O&A

- Prostitution Loitering

- Sexual Exploitation

- Crimes that require follow up by a detective (including the recovery of in-store video)

2. Suspects Must Be Thoroughly Identified and Documented in the General Offense Report

The Seattle Law Department will not charge a suspect if the suspect’s identity is incomplete.  Officers must gather and document as much identifying information as possible.  At a minimum, the following information is necessary:

- Full name (first, middle, last)

- Date of birth

- Last known address, including zip code

- This can include a mailing address.

- Gender

- Physical descriptors (height, weight, etc.)

3. Officers Must Document How the Suspect was Identified

Officers shall explain in the GO narrative that the person listed as the suspect was identified (e.g. driver license, prior contacts, etc.)

4. Officers Shall Articulate Probable Cause in the GO Narrative

For a successful prosecution, the necessary elements of the specified crime(s) must be thoroughly described and documented to support the probable cause.

5. Supervisors Shall Review CBO Reports and Route Them to the Law Department

See 15.020 – PRO – 1 (Utilizing CBO)

- Corrections must be completed within 72 hours. 

15.020 – PRO – 1 (Utilizing CBO)


1. Completes an investigation of an eligible crime and decides not to book the suspect

2. If a suspect has been detained, screens the incident with a sergeant prior to releasing the suspect

3. Provides complete suspect identification in the GO report

4. Checks “requested only” and enters the following phrase in part 2 of the GO Narrative template:

- “I recommend this completed misdemeanor investigation of Suspect/(suspect’s full name) be referred to the Seattle Law Department for the crime of (name of crime and SMC).” 

5. Thoroughly articulates probable cause in the narrative

6. Submits report to sergeant


7. Reviews report and, for incidents where the suspect was detained, completes a supplemental using the screening template in MRE

a. If complete, routes report to the Seattle Law Department by changing the operational status from “O” to “I”

b. If incomplete, returns report to the officer for correction

Data Center

8. Transcribes report

Records Files Manager

9. Releases track “I” clearances to the Seattle Law Department weekly