General Policy Information
Latest Revision Date: 12/1/2014
Title 1 - Department Administration
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Title 4 - Human Resources
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Effective Date: 1/1/2014
14.090 – POL
This policy pertains to the Department’s response to demonstrations.
An Incident Commander will oversee the Department’s response to public assemblies before, during and after the event.
The involved unit’s supervisor or commander will develop the specific methods or tactics that will be used to accomplish the mission. See 14.090–TSK–2 Responsibilities of the Supervisor.
In order to fulfill this obligation, the Incident Commander will be available for on-scene consultation.
a. Upon Determining That the Crowd Presents an Imminent Risk to Public Safety or That Large-Scale Property Destruction Appears Likely, the Incident Commander May Order That the Crowd Be Dispersed
The Incident Commander or designee will first issue the order to disperse, if feasible.
b. Officers Shall Not Use Chemical Agents or Less-Lethal Munitions to Overcome Passive Resistance by Nonviolent and/or Peaceful Protestors, Absent Exigent Circumstances
c. Upon the Order of the Incident Commander, SWAT Will Deploy Chemical Agents and/or Less-Lethal Munitions to Disperse a Demonstration
The Incident Commander shall have the authority to direct the use of chemical agents and less-lethal devices to disperse the demonstration.
- A lieutenant may authorize the use of chemical agents/less-lethal munitions to disperse a demonstration if an immediate life safety emergency exists that requires this action be taken and there is insufficient time to obtain incident command approval.
- An immediate life safety emergency is an unplanned, dynamic situation where immediate police action is necessary to protect the officers’ and/or the public’s safety.
d. A CART-Trained Supervisor shall Oversee Chemical Agents and/or Less-Lethal Munitions when SWAT is not Assigned to the Demonstration
Personnel trained to deploy patrol CART munitions are authorized to carry these agents or devices unless otherwise directed by the Incident Commander. The Incident Commander shall have the authority to direct the use of chemical agents and less-lethal devices to disperse the demonstration.
- Each precinct will maintain a supply of chemical agents and less-lethal devices to address an unplanned demonstration where there is insufficient time to deploy SWAT
e. The Incident Commander Will Deploy Department Personnel to Accomplish Specific Tactical Objectives
Objectives may include:
- Containment - to confine an demonstration
- Complete containment of a demonstration without a dispersal route will only be done as a prelude to a mass arrest situation
- Isolation – to prevent the growth of the demonstration and to deny access to those who are not involved, for their own safety
- Prevention of escalation – to defuse the situation through warnings and verbal persuasion
- Dispersal – to disperse the demonstration in a predetermined direction and take enforcement action against violators
a. Officers Shall Deploy OC for Specific Objectives Consistent With Manual Section 8.100 - Using Force.
The authorized use of OC in demonstration situations involving violent activity shall have as a primary objective at least one of the following:
- Defend oneself
- Defend someone else
- Prevent significant destruction of property
b. OC Will be Directed at the Specific Suspect(s) who are Posing a Threat
Officers deploying OC will attempt to limit collateral exposure to non-involved parties.
- If there is probable cause to arrest for a crime, it is a priority for officers to arrest individuals against whom OC has been deployed.
c. Officers Will Provide Aid to Subjects Exposed to Chemical Agents and/or OC, if Feasible
Officers will request medical response or assistance for subjects exposed to chemical spray and/or OC when they complain of continued effects after having been decontaminated, or they indicate that they have a pre-existing medical condition (e.g. asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, heart ailment, etc) that may be aggravated by chemical spray and/or OC.
d. Officers Must Document Uses of Force
Officers shall individually justify and document all reportable uses of force consistent with Manual Section 8.300 - Use-of-Force Reporting and Investigation.
During the course of managing a demonstration, the Incident Commander:
1. If feasible, contacts the demonstration organizer to discuss the Department response
2. Develops contingency plan regarding staffing and tactics
3. Considers utilizing specialty units
4. Communicates each unit’s mission to the relevant supervisor or commander
a. Approves unit plans
5. Briefs officers and supervisors using the SPD ICS briefing format
6. Remains available for on-scene consultation
7. Debriefs supervisors and commanders following the event
a. Collects Event Debrief Forms from the supervisors
8. Completes an After Action Report
a. Per Manual Section 14.010 – After Action Reports, writes a memo containing the following:
b. Routes the After Action Report and Event Debrief Forms to the Patrol Operations Bureau Commander
During the course of managing a demonstration, the supervisor:
1. Develops methods or tactics that will be used to accomplish the mission
a. Submits plans to the Incident Commander
2. Debriefs assigned officers
3. Documents observations and suggestions on an Event Debrief Form (form 23.5)
a. Submits Event Debrief Forms to Incident Commander
4. Attends separate debrief with Incident Commander
Upon determining that the crowd presents an imminent risk to public safety or that large-scale property destruction appears likely, the Incident Commander, as feasible:
1. Considers placing officers at the rear of the crowd to verify that the order to disperse will be heard by all
2. Issues the following order:
“I am (rank and name) of the Seattle Police Department. I am now issuing a public safety order to disperse and I command all those assemble at (specific location) to immediately disperse, which means leave this area. If you do not do so, you may be arrested or subject to other police action. Other police action could include the use of chemical agents or less-lethal munitions, which may inflict significant pain or result in serious injury. If you remain in the area just described, regardless of your purpose, you will be in violation of city and state law. The following routes of dispersal are available: (routes). You have (reasonable amount of time) minutes to disperse.”
3. Allows a reasonable amount of time for the crowd to disperse
4. Repeats the order to disperse, if feasible
5. Continually assesses the balance of dispersal time and the goal of retaining control of the situation