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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

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

15.055 – Death Investigation

Effective Date: 9/17/2014


This policy applies to all employees who investigate the death of a person.

1. Patrol Officers Conduct the Primary Investigation of a Reported Dead Human Body.

See 15.055-TSK-1 Primary Patrol Officer at Death Investigations.

2. Patrol Sergeants Respond to Dead Human Body Incidents

See 15.055-TSK-2 Primary Patrol Sergeants Responsibilities at a Death Investigation.

3. The Patrol Sergeant Responding to a Death Investigation Notifies the Appropriate Investigating Unit

The responding sergeant will notify the Homicide and Assault Unit, TCI, ABS, or FIT through Communications as directed below.

Homicide Unit is contacted for:

  • Homicide
  • Assaults with injuries likely to result in death
  • Death investigations involving suspicious circumstances or possible abuse or neglect (including natural, accidental and adult suicide)
  • Non-traffic related deaths involving a person under the age of 18
  • Note: The Homicide Unit will screen all suicides of persons under the age of 18 and will assume investigative responsibilities if they respond.

  • Death of any on-duty police personnel
  • Missing person or kidnapping that becomes a homicide
  • Found bones that are likely human, such as a skull or a partial skeleton
  • Industrial accidents resulting in death

Traffic Collision Investigation (TCI) Unit is contacted for:

  • Traffic collisions resulting in the death of a person.

Arson Bomb Squad (ABS) is contacted for:

  • Fire deaths or fire injuries likely to result in death. 

    Note:  The ABS sergeant may request the Homicide Unit respond

Force Investigation Team (FIT) is contacted for:

  • Any in-custody death involving SPD or any death occurring at the King County Jail and King County Youth Service Center

The patrol sergeant responding to the scene may contact the Homicide/Assault Unit through Communications with questions involving a death investigation that does not fit into the above categories. The responding sergeant will leave a call back number with Communications.

4. A Watch Commander May Order Follow-up Units to Respond to the Scene of a Death.

5. The Seattle Police Department is Responsible for On-Scene Command of Drowning, Dive Rescue and Near-Drowning Incidents

The Duty Captain will respond to all incidents involving a dive rescue, drowning and near drowning.

6. The Homicide Scene Sergeant Screens and Approves GO Reports for Homicides and Possible Homicides

Patrol Officers will inform the Homicide Scene Sergeant that the GO report is in the Approval Queue.



15.055-TSK-1 Primary Patrol Officer Responsibilities at Death Investigations

Patrol Officer

1. Secures the scene, protects the evidence, isolates witnesses and identifies suspects.

  • Restricts access to other than essential personnel. Essential personnel include: Police, Fire, Medical Examiner staff, and Prosecutors.
  • If the body or evidence is in imminent danger of being contaminated or damaged, moves the body or evidence only to the extent necessary to preserve its evidentiary value. (If possible, photographs the body or evidence prior to being moved.)  If the body or evidence was moved, documents this in the GO Report.
    • Notes the position and description of the body in relation to the surroundings, and the presence or absence of any weapons.
  • Does not remove evidence or property from the scene unless directed to do so by the proper follow-up unit or the Medical Examiner’s Investigator.

2. Requests that a Patrol Sergeant respond to the scene.

3. Identifies all persons found at the scene and encourages them to remain until the arrival of a Patrol Sergeant.

4a. If the death appears to be of natural causes attempts to locate the deceased’s identification.

  • This search may include the deceased’s clothing while making an effort not to significantly disturb the position of the body.  Photograph the body prior to conducting the search. (Also see 6a.)

4b. If a follow-up unit is responding to the scene, does not move or search the body or room for the person’s identification or other information unless directed to do so by a detective sergeant or Medical Examiner Investigator.

5. Photographs the scene using a Department-issued digital camera.

Note: Officers do not complete scene sketches as part of a death investigation. Instead, officers may take overview photos of the scene, taking care not to contaminate the crime scene . The priority is to coordinate the scene, isolate witnesses, and identify suspects.

Note: If a follow-up unit is not responding to a death investigation, the primary officer will thoroughly photograph the scene.

Note: Officers may take photographs of the exterior location and gathered crowds if applicable.

6a. If investigating a natural death:

(1). Collects all necessary information to support a natural death.

  • If the death is associated with the Washington Death with Dignity Act (RCW 70.245), provides this information to the Medical Examiner.
  • If the death is associated with the hospice program, follows the Hospice Deaths Instructions. (See 6b)

(2). Contacts the Medical Examiner at 206-731-3232. (Unless under hospice care, see 6b)

  • If the primary officer and responding sergeant believe that a natural death has occurred, the Medical Examiner’s Office may arrange with the family for a funeral home to take custody of the body after the Medical Examiner’s Office verifies:
  • The medical history of the deceased.
  • The doctor of the deceased agrees to sign the death certificate.
  • The family members of the deceased are available.

(3a). If the Medical Examiner does not respond, obtains the assigned "No-Jurisdiction Assumed" (NJA) number.


(3b). If the Medical Examiner responds to take custody of the body, obtains the "King County Medical Examiner's" (KCME) case number.

(4). Stays at the scene until the body is removed or releases the body to a competent adult willing to accept the responsibility of staying with the body until the funeral home arrives.

  • Important: Screens with the Sergeant for approval to leave the scene in another’s custody.

(5). Completes a General Offense Report including:

  • Facts that support a natural death
  • Medical history/medications
  • Recent activities
  • Complaints of illness or poor health
  • Health care received
  • The "NJA" or "KCME" number
  • Health care professional(s) contact information
  • Timeline leading up to the death
  • Identity and contact information for any persons present at the scene or who may assist in providing information relevant to the death
  • Description of the condition of the body and the location where it was found
  • Description and disposition of valuable items found near the body or items relevant to the death
  • Information of the person or agency taking possession of the body

6b. If investigating a death of a person under hospice care

(1). Determines if the death appears to be natural (No signs of abuse or other suspicious circumstances)

(2). Determines if the deceased was under hospice care. (extended medical care evident, witness statements of hospice care, documentation)

(3). Contacts the hospice care provider and request they respond

(4). Screens the incident with an on-scene patrol sergeant

Note:  The hospice care provider will coordinate with the Medical Examiner’s Office upon accepting responsibility to handle the death and is responding.

(5). Releases the scene to a competent adult, or if a competent adult is not available, remains at the scene until the hospice care provider responds.

(6). Documents the circumstances on the event log as a hospice death.

(7). Clears the call with the MIR 330-Union.

6c. If investigating an accidental death or suicide:

(1). Collects all necessary information to support an accidental death or suicide.

(2). Documents the position, condition, and description of the body.

(3). Documents available historical information of the deceased. (Regarding Suicides: Include threats of suicide and mental health information)

(4). Identifies and interviews all witnesses.

(5). Contacts the Medical Examiner (206-731-3232) and requests an ME investigator respond to the scene.

(6). Obtains the KCME case number.

(7). Stays at the scene until the body is removed by the Medical Examiner.

(8). Completes a General Offense Report including:

  • Facts that support an accidental death or suicide
  • The "KCME" number
  • Medical (Mental Health) history/medications
  • Recent activities
  • Complaints of illness or poor health
  • Health care received
  • Health care professional(s) contact information
  • Timeline leading up to the death
  • Identity and contact information for any persons present at the scene or who may assist in providing information relevant to the death
  • Description of the condition of the body and the location where it was found
  • Description and disposition of valuable items found near the body or items relevant to the death
  • Information of who took possession of the body

6d. If investigating a possible homicide or death with suspicious circumstances:

(1). Obtains identification and contact information from all persons at the scene. Encourages witnesses to remain at the scene and talk with Homicide detectives.

(2). Requests the responding sergeant contact the Homicide and Assault Unit.

(3). Assists the detectives.

(4). Remains at the scene until relieved by the follow-up detectives.

(5). Completes a General Offense Report and Officer Statement documenting the information obtained at the scene and the release of the scene to the follow-up unit.

(6). If the officer writes a GO report for a possible homicide or death with suspicious circumstances, the officer informs the Homicide Scene Sergeant that the GO is in the approval queue.



15.055-TSK-2 Primary Patrol Sergeant’s Responsibilities at a Death Investigation

Patrol Sergeant

1. Responds in person to a dead human body call.

2. Assumes command of all patrol activities at the scene and assists the primary officer with their required tasks.

3. With the primary officer, determines the likely manner of death: natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or possible homicide/undetermined.

4. Contacts the proper follow-up unit if required.

5. Determines if a Crime Scene Log (form 9.26) is needed.

Assigns an officer to maintain a crime scene log documenting who enters and exits the crime scene.

6. Screens the body from public view if practical.

Note: Supervisors or Officers may drape a Department emergency blanket over a body to keep from public view when necessary. Sealed, uncontaminated Emergency Blankets are available from the Quartermaster or Stationmasters.

7. Remains at the scene until released by the proper follow-up unit (if they respond).

8. Screens and approves all related reports generated by patrol for the incident.

Exception: All homicide and possible homicide General Offense Reports are screened and approved by a Homicide Sergeant.