Patrol Officers

Patrol Officers are the first responders to incidents, as they respond directly to calls that are dispatched by our 9-1-1 Center when people call in an emergency.

Patrol Officers are also one of the most visible representatives of the Seattle Police Department, as they proactively patrol the neighborhoods they are assigned to, which is called their beat. During these patrols, they may also see a situation as it is occurring – these are called ‘on-view’ incidents.

Patrol officers also get to know the area that they are assigned and the community members they serve within their beat. When not responding directly to calls, or providing backup to other officers, patrol officers use proactive time to combat ongoing crime problems in specific neighborhoods.

There are three ways you will see patrol officers working:

  • In a patrol vehicle
  • On foot – these are called foot beats
  • On a bike – these are called bike patrols

Foot beats and bike patrols are most often used in dense urban neighborhoods and parks.

How patrol officers are assigned

Patrol Officers work 24/7 year round. Patrol Officers work on a rotating schedule that includes weekends and holidays, and officers are assigned to one of three watches:

  • First Watch: 03:30 - 12:30 (3-12 PM)
  • Second Watch: 11:30 - 20:30 (11-8 PM)
  • Third Watch: 19:30 - 04:30 (7-4 AM)

Learn more about how the City of Seattle is geographically patrolled.

Patrol officers are given extensive training in many different skill sets and attend mandatory training throughout their careers because they come across so many different types of incidents and situations.

A background and understanding of patrol work is essential before a transition to any other type of police work. Because of this, all sworn officers must work as a patrol officer for at least three years before they can be assigned to a specialty unit or be promoted.