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Less lethal weapons program


The Force Options Research Group (FORG) is an internal study group that evaluates and makes recommendations on less lethal options for use by Department officers. Focused on first-responding officers, the Less Lethal Options Program seeks to expand the tools officers have available to confront and defuse violent encounters. These tools may be devices such as the Taser™ and the shotgun with bean bag rounds, or they may consist of different approaches or tactics, such as crisis intervention training.

The deliberative approach of FORG, combined with the high level of documentation and analysis involved, are credited with making SPD's Less Lethal Options Program one of the most successful in the country.


When less lethal force options are considered, the Taser™ is the tool that the public is the most curious about and usually prompts the most questions.

Seattle Police began its first limited deployment of tasers in December 2000. By the end of 2006, over half of all patrol officers had been trained and authorized to carry them. From 2001 - 2005, officers used tasers in 1,110 incidents, or about 15.5 incidents a month.

Tasers are most often used as a response to fights and disturbances. A growing number of subjects in situation where a taser has been used have been impaired by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, or some combination of these, making it very difficult for officers to reason with them or convince them to comply with their commands or offers of help. Additionally, one-fifth of taser subjects (21%) have been armed when officers confront them.

The Seattle Police Department understands the public concerns about the potential for abuse of tasers. The Department has a number of safeguards to ensure accountability of taser use:

  • All officers equipped with a Taser must go through mandatory training.

  • All taser prongs have a unique identifying confetti that is distributed whenever it is used in a situation.

  • Any use of a Taser must be written up in a Use of Force report by the officer.

  • All Taser usage is tracked on a Department-wide basis and a bi-annual Taser Use Update is made available to the public on this website.

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