General Policy Information
Latest Revision Date: 3/3/2014
Title 1 - Department Administration
Title 2 - Department Employment
Title 3 - Employee Welfare
Title 4 - Human Resources
Title 5 - Employee Conduct
Title 6 - Arrests, Search and Seizure
Title 7 - Evidence and Property
Title 8 - Use of Force
Title 9 - Equipment and Uniforms
Title 10 - Police Facilities & Security
Title 11 - Detainee Management
Title 12 - Department Information Systems
Title 13 - Vehicle Operations
Title 14 - Emergency Operations
Title 15 - Primary Investigation
Title 16 - Patrol Operations
Effective Date: 1/23/2012
The following sets forth policy and procedure regarding the disciplinary process including investigation of allegations made by a citizen and internal complaints.
A relationship of trust and confidence between the Department and the community is essential to effective law enforcement. Employees must be free to exercise their own judgment and take enforcement action in a reasonable, lawful, and impartial manner without fear of reprisal. It is therefore important to establish a disciplinary process that enables the Department to initiate positive, corrective action for improper conduct. At the same time, employees must be protected from unwarranted criticism for properly discharging their duties. It is the policy of this Department to provide a thorough, fair and expeditious disposition of complaints regarding conduct of Department members.
Other sources contain provisions that may also apply to the complaint process and the discipline of employees. Examples include: City ordinances (e.g., SMC 4.04 and SMC 4.08); administrative rules (e.g., Public Safety Civil Service Commission Rules and City Personnel Rules); and collective bargaining agreements. If a conflict is found, the applicable ordinance, rule, or collective bargaining agreement will be determinative.
II. The Complaint Process
1. Citizen Complaint: an allegation of employee misconduct from any source outside the Department. Citizen complaints include, but are not necessarily limited to, allegations of: violations of Department policies, procedures, rules and regulations, and violations of federal, state or local laws.
2. Employee: Any full-time, part-time, or temporary paid member of the Department. Any individual acting under the authority of the Seattle Police Department, to include but not limited to: Reserve Officers, Explorers, Special Police Commissions, Extended Authority Special Police Commissions, Crossing Guards, volunteers, etc.
3. Internal Complaint: An allegation of misconduct against an employee from any source within the Department.
III. Individual Employee Responsibilities
A. All employees observing instances of serious misconduct or abuse shall intervene to stop the misconduct or abuse.
B. Employees have a duty to assist any person who wishes to file a complaint by:
1. Taking the complaint,
2. Providing specific information to the complainant on where and how to file the complaint, or
3. Immediately putting the complainant in contact with a supervisor or other individual who can assist them with filing their complaint.
C. An employee who witnesses or becomes aware of misconduct or a complaint of misconduct, shall, in all cases, take appropriate action to prevent aggravation of the incident or the loss of evidence that could prove or disprove misconduct.
D. No employee shall interfere with, hinder, or obstruct a person from making a citizen complaint or an internal complaint.
E. Each employee shall assume the obligations of their position in the reporting of complaints or allegations of misconduct against Department employees.
F. Employees shall cooperate in a Department internal investigation of an allegation of misconduct when so directed by the Department, and shall truthfully answer questions and render complete, material and relevant statements, including all facts and circumstances surrounding the subject matter of the investigation, which may be known by the employee. Omissions of material fact shall be classified as failure to cooperate in an internal investigation.
1. Whenever an employee submits a verbal or written statement as required by this manual, they should preface the statement with the following sentence:
“This is a true and involuntary statement given by me in accordance with Section 5.002 of the Seattle Police Department Manual.”
G. Every employee shall report to their supervisor as soon as practical (and before the start of their next work shift) any of the following circumstances occurring in any jurisdiction:
1. They are the subject of a criminal investigation, criminal traffic citation, arrest, or conviction.
2. They are the respondent of an order of protection, restraining order, no contact order, anti-harassment order.
3. Their Washington driver’s license is expired, suspended, or revoked, or if they obtain an ignition interlock driver license.
a. Employees shall submit requests for an Employer Declaration for Ignition Interlock Device directly to the Assistant Chief of the Field Support Bureau.
H. No employee shall retaliate against any person who initiates or provides information pursuant to any citizen or internal complaint, or against any person who provides information or testimony at a Department hearing, because of such person’s participation in the complaint process. Such retaliation may be a criminal act and/or constitute separate grounds for discipline.
IV. Supervisory and Command Responsibilities
A. Supervisory employees (sergeants and above or non-sworn equivalents) shall themselves take corrective action within the scope of their authority when they witness or become aware of employee minor misconduct. Examples of minor misconduct include, but are not limited to:
2. Uniform and equipment violations.
3. Personal appearance violations.
4. Minor omissions in assigned duties.
5. Minor violations of Department regulations concerned with job performance, efficiency, or employee safety.
B. If misconduct or an internal complaint of misconduct is of a more serious nature or is repeated minor misconduct, the supervisor shall report the matter by completing a Complaint Report (form 2.7). The Complaint Report and other related reports and documents shall be forwarded to the Office of Professional Accountability (a copy of the Complaint Report and related documents shall also be forwarded to the accused employee’s Precinct or Section Captain or non-sworn equivalent).
C. A supervisor (sergeant or above, or non-sworn equivalent) may relieve a subordinate employee from duty for up to twenty-four (24) hours (excluding weekends and holidays) when it appears from an allegation of misconduct that immediate relief from duty appears necessary to protect the Department, the employee, or the public. A copy of the Complaint Report (form 2.7), regarding the alleged misconduct that caused the relief from duty shall be immediately forwarded to the involved employee’s Precinct or Section Captain or non-sworn equivalent, as well as to the Office of Professional Accountability.
1. Time sheets shall be marked “AL” to indicate Administrative Mandatory Leave.
V. Reporting Complaints
A. The Department will accept complaints from any source including witnesses or other third parties, outside agencies, and anonymous sources. Complaints may be made in person, or by writing or phoning the Department or the Office of Professional Accountability.
B. When a non-supervisory employee becomes aware of a complaint by a member of the public, they shall notify a supervisor (sergeant or non-sworn equivalent) and refer the complainant to the supervisor. When a supervisor is not immediately available, the employee shall be responsible for receiving and documenting complaint(s) and providing the information to a supervisor before going off-duty. The following pertinent facts and information shall be recorded whenever a complaint is received:
1. Nature of the alleged incident.
2. Date of the alleged incident.
3. Place where the alleged incident occurred.
4. Name of employee involved or their badge number and other description.
5. Name, address, and telephone number of the complainant, aggrieved party, and all known witnesses.
6. A detailed summary of the complaint.
C. Supervisors shall document the complaint by completing a Complaint Report (form 2.7). If the supervisor is the subject of the complaint, the complaint shall be referred to another supervisor.
D. Supervisors shall notify a command level officer (lieutenant or above, or non-sworn equivalent) in cases where immediate investigative action by the Office of Professional Accountability may be necessary. If warranted, the command level officer shall notify OPA-IS.
E. When alleged misconduct involves unnecessary or excessive use of force, a supervisor shall photograph (if possible) any alleged injuries and areas where injuries are alleged but are not visible. The supervisor shall also report their observations regarding the presence, absence, nature, and extent of any injuries, and whether medical attention was received or sought.
F. The reporting supervisor shall forward the Complaint Report with any related reports and documents directly to the Office of Professional Accountability before going off-duty. A copy of the Complaint Report and any related reports shall be forwarded to the accused employee’s Precinct or Section Captain, or non-sworn equivalent. If the subject of the complaint is assigned to the Office of Professional Accountability, the report shall be forwarded to the Chief of Police or his designee.
G. The OPA shall review all new complaints and classify them for the purposes of investigation:
1. Contact Log complaints are not assigned for investigation, but are referred to the employee’s supervisor for review. Complaints involving conduct that would not constitute misconduct are generally classified as contact logs.
2. Supervisory Referrals are complaints that, even if events occurred exactly as described, signify a training gap instead of misconduct on the part of the involved employee. The information on the complaint is referred to the appropriate supervisor for review, counseling, and the provision of any necessary additional training.
3. Line Investigations are complaints of minor misconduct investigated by the officer’s chain of command.
4. OPA-IS Investigations are more complex and involve more serious allegations, including all use of force allegations.
H. The Chief of Police or his designee shall appoint an investigator from another Department Section or entity within the Department for complaints directed against members of the Office of Professional Accountability.
I. Every investigation into an allegation of misconduct shall include a conclusion of fact.
J. Unless governed by specific labor contract language, investigations into allegations of employee misconduct will generally be completed within 180 days of the receipt of a complaint. Extensions to the 180 days shall be permitted in the event of criminal investigations, or investigations that are very complex. Involved employees will be notified in writing of extensions. A written justification for the extension will be provided upon request.
K. The OPA shall maintain a record of all complaints against the Department or any of its employees. This record, and any investigative files related to these complaints, shall be secured within the OPA Investigation Section offices.
VI. Public Inquiries
A. A dispute regarding the factual support for an arrest, citation, or the appropriateness of an established Department policy or procedure will not ordinarily be considered a public complaint. Further, it will not be subject to the public complaint reporting requirements of this section. However, people with inquiries of this nature should be given an explanation of the Department policy, procedure, or issues involved. If further explanation appears necessary, the person should be referred to a supervisor or the Department unit generally responsible for the subject matter of the inquiry. Employees are encouraged to document constructive public inquiries and suggestions and forward them through their chain of command.
A. In the course of an administrative internal investigation, employees shall not be compelled to:
1. Participate in a line-up.
2. Take a polygraph or other lie detection test.
B. Employees may be required, upon approval of the Captain of OPA-IS and for good cause shown, to:
1. Undergo a medical or laboratory examination.
2. Submit financial disclosure statements.
3. Be photographed.
C. If an internal investigation becomes a criminal investigation, these tests or conditions may be utilized in accordance with legal requirements, as in any other criminal investigation.