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General Policy Information


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Audit, Policy & Research Unit Manual

Code of Ethics

Mission Statement and Priorities

Recently Updated

Cross Reference

Latest Revision Date: 12/1/2014

Title 1 - Department Administration

1.010 - Authority and Jurisdiction

1.020 - Chain of Command

1.030 - Department Span of Control Chart

1.040 - Budget

1.050 - Grants

1.060 - Consultant Contract Administration

1.070 - Training

1.080 - Inspection and Audits

1.090 - Ticket Chain of Custody

1.100 - Ticket Audits

1.110 - Media Relations

Title 2 - Department Employment

2.020 - Appointments and Probation

2.030 - Retirements and Separations

2.050 - Collective Bargaining and Contract Management

2.060 - Grievances

2.070 - Performance Evaluations

Title 3 - Employee Welfare

3.035 - Reasonable Accommodation (ADA)

3.040 – Airborne Pathogens Control

3.045 - Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control

3.050 - Coordinating Officer Fatalities

3.070 - Performance Mentoring Program

3.080 - Travel Training System

3.090 - Employee Recognition Awards Program

3.170 - Honoring Those Killed in the Line of Duty

3.270 - Police Charity Committee

3.290 - Pre-Service/In-Service and Specialized Training

3.330 - Workplace Safety

3.340 - Employee Involvement Committees_JLMC

Title 4 - Human Resources

4.000 - Employee Move Tracking System (EMT)

4.005 - Police Employee Data System (PEDS)

4.010 - Employee Time Off

4.015 - Restricted Time Off for a Pre-Planned Event

4.020 - Reporting and Recording Overtime/Out of Classification Pay

4.030 - Jury Duty

4.040 - Sick Leave

4.050 - On-Duty Illness or Injury

4.060 - Long Term Disability Benefits

4.070 - Limited Duty Assignments

4.080 - Pregnancy

4.090 - Leave of Absence Without Pay

4.100 – Family and Medical Leave

4.110 - Sick Leave Donation

4.120 - Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Leave

4.130 - Military Leave

4.140 - Military Spouse/Domestic Partner Leave

4.150 - Funeral Leave

Title 5 - Employee Conduct

5.001 - Standards and Duties

5.002 - Responsibilities of Employees Concerning Complaints of Possible Misconduct

5.010 - Civil Actions

5.020 - Gifts and Gratuities

5.030 - Preparing for Criminal Case Interviews

5.040 - EEO Complaints and Investigations

5.060 - Employee Political Activity

5.090 - Operations Bureau General Personnel Matters

5.100 - Operations Bureau Individual Responsibilities

5.120 - Secondary Employment

5.130 - Supervisor/Employee Relationships

5.140 - Bias-Free Policing

Bias-Free Policing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

5.150 - Use of Private Vehicles for City Business

5.160 - Citizen Observation of Officers

5.170 - Alcohol and Substance Use

5.175 - Critical Incident Stress Management Communications

5.190 - Court Appearances and Legal Proceedings

5.200 - Americans With Disabilities Act

Title 6 - Arrests, Search and Seizure

6.010 - Reporting Arrests and Detentions

6.020 - Arrests and Detentions of Foreign Nationals

6.030 - Body Cavity Searches

6.060 - Collection of Information for Law Enforcement Purposes

6.120 - Impounding Vehicles

6.130 - Informant Management

6.135 - Cooperating Witnesses

6.140 - Locating a Cell Phone during an Emergency

6.150 - Advising Persons of Miranda

6.180 - Searches-General

6.181 - Performing Inventory Searches

6.185 - Search Warrants

6.210 - Strip Searches

6.220 - Voluntary Contacts, Terry Stops & Detentions

6.250 - Use of Non-SPD Canines

6.280 - Warrant Arrests

6.290 - Juvenile Investigations and Arrests

Title 7 - Evidence and Property

7.010 - Submitting Evidence

7.020 - Found Property

7.030 - Firearms & Shell Casings

7.040 - Dangerous or Hazardous Evidence

7.050 - Checking Out Evidence for Court

7.060 - Releasing Evidence

7.070 - Converting Evidence for Department Use

7.080 - Money Evidence

7.090 - Photographic Evidence

7.100 - Fingerprint Evidence

7.110 - Recorded Statements

7.120 - Narcotics Evidence

7.130 – Narcotics Training Aid and Investigative Use Drug Property Release

7.140 – Firearm Training Aid and Investigative Use

7.150 - Non-Detainee Property for Safekeeping

Title 8 - Use of Force

8.000 - Use of Force Core Principles

8.050 - Use of Force Definitions

8.100 - Using Force

8.200 - Use of Force Tools

8.210 - OC Chain of Custody

8.300 - Use of Force Reporting and Investigation

Use of Force Public Safety Statement Card

Investigating Supervisor Scene Guide

Investigating Supervisor Precinct Guide

Investigating Supervisor Documentation Guide

Involved Officer Statement Guide

Witness Officer Statement Guide

8.400 - Reviewing Use of Force

Reviewing Lieutenant Guide

Reviewing Captain Guide

8.500 - Firearms Discharge Investigations

Officer Involved Shooting-Public Safety Statement Card

8.600 - Review of Firearms Discharges

Use-of-Force Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Title 9 - Equipment and Uniforms

9.010 - Employee Dress Standards

9.020 - Uniform

Uniform Reference Catalog

9.030 - Equipment

Equipment Reference Catalog

9.040 - Uniform and Equipment Committee

9.050 - Clothing Allowance and Reimbursement for Personal Property

9.060 - Firearms

9.065 - Firearms Training and Qualification

9.100 - Department Firearms Management

Title 10 - Police Facilities & Security

10.010 - Parking at Department Facilities

10.020 - Physical Security of Police Facilities

10.060 - Holding Cell Camera System

Title 11 - Detainee Management

11.010 - Detainee Management in Department Facilities

11.020 - Transportation of Detainees

11.030 - Guarding Detainees at a Hospital

11.040 - Booking Adult Detainees

11.050 - Detainee Property

Title 12 - Department Information Systems

12.010 - Communications

12.030 - Computer Hardware & Devices

12.040 - Computer Software

12.045 - Booking Photo Comparison Software

12.050 - Criminal Records

12.055 - Criminal Justice Research

12.060 - Department Forms Control

12.070 - Department Publications

12.080 - Department Records Access, Inspection & Dissemination

12.090 - Departmental Correspondence

12.091 - Mobile Reporting Entity (MRE) Laptops

12.110 - Use of Department E-mail & Internet Systems

12.111 - Use of Cloud Storage Services

12.120 - Telephone and Facsimile Machine Use

Title 13 - Vehicle Operations

13.010 - Collisions Involving Department Vehicles

13.015 - Collision Review Board

13.030 - Emergency Vehicle Operations

13.031 - Vehicle Eluding/Pursuits

13.040 - Patrol Operations Equipment, Police Vehicles and Facilities

13.050 - Policing by Mountain Bike

13.060 - Specialty Vehicles & Equipment

13.080 - Use of Department Vehicles

Title 14 - Emergency Operations

14.010 - After-Action Reports

14.040 - Hazardous Conditions

14.060 - Serious Incident Plan

14.070 - Serious Injury or Fatality to a Police Officer

14.080 - Task Force Mobilization

14.090 - Demonstration Management

ICS Debrief Form

14.100 - Special Event Planning

Title 15 - Primary Investigation

15.010 - Arson Investigations

15.015 – Bomb Threats and Explosive Devices

15.020 - Charge by Officer

15.055 - Death Investigations

15.080 - Follow-up Unit Notification and Follow-up Investigation

15.090 - Graffiti Incidents

15.100 - Kidnapping

15.120 - Malicious Harassment

15.130 - Missing Persons

15.140 - Narcotics Activity Report

15.150 - Narcotics

15.160 - Marijuana Enforcement

15.180 - Primary Investigations

15.185 - Vulnerable Adults-Elder Abuse and Neglect

15.190 - Theft and Recovery of Vehicle, License Plates, or License Tabs

15.200 - Retail Theft Program

15.210 - Investigating Property Held by a Pawnshop or Used-Goods Store

15.215 - Domestic Violence Firearms Surrender

15.220 - Child Welfare

15.230 - Animal Control

15.240 - Boating Accidents

15.250 - Interpreters/Translators

15.260 - Collision Investigations

15.270 - Trespass Warning Program

15.275 - Enforcing Trespass in Parks

15.280 - DUI Investigations

15.290 - Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution (SOAP)

15.300 - Stay Out of Drug Areas (SODA)-Define Boundaries

15.310 - Foreign Nationals Seeking Asylum

15.320 - Police Action on Military Reservations

15.330 - Responding to Threats and Assaults on Officers

15.340 - Robbery Response

15.350 - Significant Incident Report

15.360 - Mobile Identification Devices

15.370 - Sexual Assault Investigation

Title 16 - Patrol Operations

16.010 - Adult Entertainment

16.020 - Alley Closure

16.030 - Citizen Rider Program

16.040 - Community Police Teams

16.050 - Death Notifications

16.070 - Responding to Monitored Alarms

16.080 - Fireworks Disposal and Disposition

16.090 - In Car Video System

16.091 - Body-Worn Video Pilot Program

16.100 - Patrol Training and Publications

16.110 - Crisis Intervention

16.130 - Sick and Injured Persons

16.135 - Excited Delirium

16.140 - Traffic Direction and Control

16.150 - Snow and Ice Plan

16.160 - Ticket Vendors

16.170 - Automatic License Plate Readers

16.180 - Patrol Operations Order

16.190 - Labor Management Disputes

16.230 - Issuing Tickets and Traffic Contact Reports

16.231 - Cancelling and Voiding Tickets

16.240 - Mutual Assistance

16.250 - Interaction with the University of Washington Police Department

1.110 – Media Relations

Effective Date: 3/21/2012


The Seattle Police Department believes that proactive media relations are vital to our law enforcement mission. While employees of the Seattle Police Department are encouraged to work and speak to the media the Department requires that employees provide only accurate, objective, and factual responses to media inquires.

Information that is reasonably believed to compromise an on-going investigation or pending prosecution will not be released to the media.

I. Definitions

A. Media: Media refers to all reporters, photographers, camera operators, and others who are directly employed by agencies of the media and who hold valid news media identification.

B. Public Affairs Unit: The Public Affairs Unit shall promote effective relations between the news media and the Seattle Police Department by:

1. Assisting the media cover news stories at the scene of police operations.

2. Preparing and distributing news releases.

3. Arranging for, and assisting at, news conferences.

4. Coordinating and authorizing the release of information.

5. Coordinating the release of information with other public service agencies.

A. Public Information Officer (PIO): The Public Information Officer works in the Public Affairs Unit and acts as the representative of the Chief of Police to the media. PIO’s will be available for on-call responses to the media.

B. on-scene Captain or Lieutenant: For the purpose of this section an on-scene Captain or Lieutenant will be a person with the permanent rank of Lieutenant or above.

II. Public Affairs Unit function

A. The general function of the Public Affairs Unit shall include but are not necessarily limited to:

1. Assisting news personnel in covering news stories at the scenes of incidents;

2. Being available for on-call responses to the news media;

3. Preparing and distributing agency news releases;

4. Arranging for and assisting at news conferences;

5. Coordinating and authorizing the release of information about victims, witnesses, and suspects;

6. Assisting in crisis situations within the agency;

7. Coordinating and authorizing the release of information concerning confidential agency investigations and operations;

8. Developing procedures for releasing information when other public service agencies are involved in a mutual effort.

III. Personnel authorized to speak to the media

A. In most situations when the media is requesting an interview from an on-duty employee, media representatives will be referred to a PIO or the on-scene Captain or Lieutenant.

B. At incidents where the media is on scene and a PIO is not available the precinct of occurrence Watch Lieutenant or someone designated by the on-scene Captain or Lieutenant will speak to the media as the department representative.

C. In the event the media does not respond to a scene of a police operation but still contacts Department employees requesting information, and a PIO is unavailable, media will be instructed to call the business number of the Communication Section at 206/684-8640. The Communications Section shift supervisor will get the basic information and a call back number from the media representative. The Communications Section supervisor or Chief Dispatcher will contact an on-duty Watch Lieutenant at the precinct of occurrence and provide the details of the media inquiry and the call back number. The Watch Lieutenant will call back the media representative as soon as possible with a response. This procedure will primarily be utilized between 2200-0700 hrs., Monday-Friday, weekends and holidays.

D. The Chief of Police, or designated representative, will be the only person authorized to speak to the media regarding Department budget issues, Department goals, allocation of resources and the interpretation of Department policies.

E. Department employees will notify the Public Affairs Unit of all requests for interviews prior to speaking with the media. If a time constraint exists the Chief Dispatcher will page the on-call PIO to screen the incident.

IV. Notification of the Public Affairs Unit

A. A Department employee will notify their immediate supervisor when they respond to an incident that is likely to produce a media response or when notification of the Public Affairs Unit is required by Department policy.

B. If the incident is an in-progress police operation the on-scene Captain or Lieutenant will contact the Communications Section and request that a PIO respond to the scene. The Watch Lieutenant at the precinct of occurrence will act as the Department media representative if a PIO does not respond.

C. When incidents produce a media response or are likely to produce a media inquiry, the primary officer will send a VMAIL containing the General Offense Number to the Public Affairs Unit.

V. Interaction with the Media

A. Department employees will cooperate with representatives of the media in a courteous and professional manner.

B. Speak about the facts as you know them. Do not speculate or editorialize. If you do not know the answer to a question, refer the media person to someone who has that information or tell them that you will attempt to get the information and get back to them.

C. Take time in answering questions and give a thoughtful response.

D. Do not make off the record statements to the media. The media is under no obligation to keep your statement off the record.

E. Department employees should contact the Public Affairs Unit with any complaint they have about an interaction with the media.

VI. Crime Scene/Serious Incident

A. When police respond to a crime scene or serious incident an outer perimeter marked with crime scene tape will be set up as soon as it is safe to do so (Seattle Police Manual Section 14.060 - Serious Incident Plan). The media will not be allowed to move past this marked perimeter.

B. The on-scene Captain or Lieutenant should establish a location near the scene as a media staging area as soon as practical and advise the media if a PIO is responding and their estimated time of arrival.

C. The on-scene Captain or Lieutenant or supervising investigator will determine if the media will be allowed to cross the perimeter and set limitations on their movements until the scene has been secured. Once the scene is secured, and the criminal investigation is complete, the media will be given access to the location.

D. The media will be allowed in any area that is open to the public. The media cannot enter private property without the owner’s permission.

E. The media will not be restricted from entering a disaster area unless the media’s presence interferes with a police operation. The on-scene Captain or Lieutenant may declare a disaster area a crime scene if they believe the disaster occurred due to criminal action.

VII. Release of information to the media

A. The Chief of Police or a Deputy Chief will screen the information that will be released to the media in an officer involved shooting or where a serious injury or death of a person occurs as a result of police activity.

B. The following information can generally be released to the media.

1. The facts regarding an incident that may include:

a. A basic description of the incident.

b. How the incident came to police attention.

c. What time the police responded to the call.

d. How many officers are currently assigned to the call.

e. The number of suspects and victims involved in the incident.

2. Adult suspects charged with a crime.

a. Suspect’s name, age, gender, race and city of residence.

b. Charge filed by the prosecutor.

c. Arresting/Investigating Unit.

d. Circumstances of the arrest.

3. Adult suspects who have been arrested and booked into jail or cited but not charged with a crime.

a. Suspect’s name, age, gender, race and city of residence.

b. Alleged offense.

c. Arresting/Investigating Unit.

d. Circumstances of the arrest.

4. Adult suspects who have been arrested, not booked into jail or cited, and have not been charged with a crime.

a. Age, gender, race and city of residence.

b. Investigating/arresting agency.

5. Juveniles

a. Information pertaining to juveniles, their parents, or legal guardians will not be released. This applies whether the juvenile is reported as a suspect, witness, victim, missing person, runaway or person of interest.

6. Victim/Witness/Complainant Disclosure

a. Officers and detectives shall affirmatively ask victims, witnesses and complainants if they wish to have their personal information protected. Per RCW 42.56.240, any victim, witness or complainant can decide, at the time of reporting, about the disclosure of their personal information. This decision, made by the individual, supersedes any disclosure requests made by another person for information.

b. Any victim, witness or complainant who does not explicitly indicate a preference for non-disclosure of their personal information to the general public is subject to potential full disclosure by the Department.

7. Medical condition of a suspect/victim

a. Readily observed information regarding medical conditions may be released. Detailed medical information, diagnosis or prognosis will not be released.

8. Deceased Persons

a. Only the age, gender, race and city of residence of the deceased person may be released. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office will be responsible for releasing the identification of the deceased person.

VIII. Restricted Information

A. Information identifying child victims under age eighteen who are victims of sexual assault is confidential and not subject to release to the press or public.

B. The listed information will generally not be released to the media unless it is authorized by the Chief of Police or their designated representative.

1. Statements about a suspect or defendant’s:

a. Character, criminal record, or reputation in the community.

b. Guilt, innocence or possible outcome of pending legal proceedings.

c. The existence or content of any admission, confession or alibi.

d. Statements or opinions regarding a defendant’s willingness or refusal to make a statement.

2. The results of evidentiary examinations or forensic tests involving a pending case.

3. The anticipated testimony or credibility of any prospective victim or witness.

4. Statements or opinions concerning evidence, or legal arguments, to be used in a pending case.

5. Information regarding bombings, bomb threats, kidnappings or kidnapping threats, unless authorized by the Captain or Lieutenant of the Violent Crimes Investigations Section.

6. Any information disclosing the identity of a confidential source.

7. Information on vehicle or boating accidents will be restricted to the narrative portion of the report and must be requested through the Public Affairs Unit. The names, license numbers or registrations numbers of the persons and vehicles involved in the accident will not be released.

IX. Release of photographs

A. Photographs of juveniles will not be released to the media without a court order or the consent of the juvenile’s parent or guardian.

B. The booking photo or an investigative file photo of a suspect wanted for a serious crime may be released to the media if it will assist in the capture of the suspect or warn the public if the suspect is a danger to the community. Authorization to release the photograph must come from the unit investigating the crime.

C. Photographs of Level III sex offenders may be released to the media and the public.

D. Department employees will neither prevent nor facilitate the photographing of defendants or suspects in custody.

X. Information of Department personnel

A. The home address, telephone number, or date of birth of any Department employee will not be released without the employee’s expressed consent.

B. The release of immediate on-scene information of the involved employee will be confined to the employee’s age, race, gender, rank, tenure and bureau of assignment.

XI. Media Aircraft

A. on-scene Captain or Lieutenants will request that media aircraft be restricted around the location of a police operation when the presence of the aircraft compromises officer safety or hinders the operation.

B. The on-scene Captain or Lieutenant will inform the PIO of the reasons for the aircraft restriction. The PIO will contact the appropriate news agency and request that they voluntarily remove the aircraft. In the event that a PIO is not at the scene, the on-scene Captain or Lieutenant will have the Chief Dispatcher make the request.

C. If the news agency does not voluntarily move their aircraft out of the area of the police operation, the PIO, Incident Commander or Chief Dispatcher will contact the Federal Aviation Administration and request that the airspace above the incident be cleared.

D. The on-scene Captain or Lieutenant may request the assistance of media aircraft for viewing the incident, coordinating the operation, photographing the incident and transporting department employees to remote locations for tactical or operational purposes.

XII. Media Observer Program

A. The Public Affairs Unit shall coordinate requests for media ride-alongs.

1. The Public Affairs Unit will have the media representative complete and sign a Citizen-Observer rider request and waiver (form 7.11). The Public Affairs Unit will complete the necessary background check prior to approval of the ride-along.

2. During the ride-along, the media representative will not be allowed to use any image recording device or audio recorder without the prior approval of the Chief of Police.

XIII. Release of reports

A. A board containing copies of reports prepared for the media will be maintained at all precincts and will be readily available for viewing by the media and the public.

B. Media representatives may obtain copies of police reports through the Public Affairs Unit.