Public Safety Today

These pages provide a high-level summary of the progress that has already been made in Seattle.  Much of this work addresses the major calls for reform being demanded in other cities. It also represents a significant investment by the Seattle community in an accountable police department.  

Learn more about:

 

Prohibits immigration enforcement: Yes. SPD Policy (Manual Section 6.020) prohibits SPD from inquiring into any individual's immigration status and prohibits SPD members from taking any enforcement action based upon an individual's immigration status. Simply put, SPD does not participate in immigration enforcement in any way.

Choke holds banned: Yes. SPD policy (8.050) prohibits the use of any neck or carotid restraint, including chokeholds.

Comprehensive Use of Force Reporting: Yes. SPD policy (8.400) requires that officers clearly and reliably report and thoroughly document each time they use force of any type. The public has access to this data

Required to exhaust all other means before using lethal force: Yes. SPD policy (8.050, 8.200) provides that lethal force may be used in circumstances where a threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others is imminent and only when no reasonably effective alternative exists.

Use of force continuum: Yes. SPD policy (8.200) requires that officers assess and modulate the use of force as resistance changes.

Requires de-escalation: Yes. SPD policy (8.100) requires that, where safe and feasible, officers use de-escalation tactics so that more time, options, and resources are available to resolve the situation.   

Duty to intervene: Yes. SPD Policy (5.002) requires that employees intervene in dangerous or criminal conduct or abuse, or face discipline.   

No shooting at moving vehicles: Yes. SPD Policy (8.300) forbids employees from firing at or from a moving vehicle. 

Prohibits no-knock warrants: Yes. SPD's policies and training are consistent with Washington's "knock and wait" rule (RCW 10.31.040), which prohibits no-knock warrant service.

Give warning before shooting: Yes. SPD Policy 8.300 (Section 7) requires that officers shall, when feasible, issue a verbal warning to the subject and fellow officers prior to discharging a firearm.

Independent investigations of officer-involved shootings: Yes. SPD, under the Consent Decree and I-940, is not required to have outside investigation, but SPD still has partnered with King County investigators to provide this model.

No quotas on enforcement: None. The Seattle Police Department does not evaluate officer or commander performance based on enforcement numbers, including arrests and stops.

Body Cameras required: Yes. In May 2017, the federal judge approved the SPD body-worn video policy. In March 2018, SPD completed the roll-out of bodycams to all officers in patrol. These cameras supplemented existing in-car dashcams. SPD has recorded more than 1.7 million bodyworn videos (over 800 TB of storage)   Learn more about Body Worn Cameras

Demilitarization: Yes. The Seattle Police Department has not participated in the federal 1033 Excess Federal Property Program since 2014. SPD has returned all equipment transferred prior to that time except a few remaining gloves, coveralls, and a utility cabinet.

Filming police allowed: Yes. The Seattle Police Department fully supports all First Amendment rights and government transparency. SPD Policy 5.160 clearly states filming is allowed.

Implicit bias training: Yes. The Seattle Police Department requires all employees to participate in a variety of trainings to address implicit bias, systemic racism, and bias-free policing. The SPD has an extensive policy outlining how to ensure policing is provided equitably and incidents of bias are documented and investigated. (SPD Policy 5.140)

Federal reporting of Use of Force Data: Yes. SPD was an early participant and tester of this model with the FBI 

 

Are Officer Use of Force statistics available for me to see?

Yes, the Use of Force dashboard has been online since 2017.  

How can I see the Department policies?

The SPD Manual is online, this is the same manual used by officers in the field.  This has been online for the public since 2012. 

Is information on officer discipline available to the public?

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) makes all of its closed summaries available to the public.  

How can I find out about Crime and Call Types?

On the SPDBlotter you can read about major crimes, as well as most of our Significant Incident Reports.  

Online Data Maps (911 Calls and Offenses)

Data about Crime and Police Responses

One major change brought in with the Consent Decree and guided by Chief O'Toole was an investment in professional data capturing and reporting.  This has allowed SPD to be far more responsive to real-time data trends internally, as well as pushing out public-facing data dashboards for increased transparency. 

Crime Dashboard

Calls for service (911 Calls)

Terry Stops (what is a Terry Stop?)

Crisis Contacts

Bias and hate crimes

This data is managed by the Data-Driven and Performance Analytics & Research sections, who are civilian data analysts. 

 

How are new officers trained?

Although some of this training has been modified or delayed due to COVID-19, SPD student officers normally receive the following training before entering the academy:

  • Case Law Study & Presentation
  • Victim Support Team
  • Peer Support
  • OPA
  • Physical Fitness/Defensive Tactics
  • Holocaust Museum - Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust (modeled after the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (DC) training of the same name, this training pushes law enforcement to use analysis of the role police played in the Holocaust to guide discussion about their professional and personal responsibilities today)·         
  • Social Media
  • Mark 43 - report writing and management system.
  • RACE, The Power of an Illusion/LEED - LEED stands for Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity.
  • Firearms
  • Resilience
  • Bias-Free Policing
  • Autism Training designed to impart awareness and best practices for interactions with people with ASD and available resources.
  • Patrol Ride-Alongs

The Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy 

The State Academy training (which is not run by SPD and is mandatory for all new officers in Washington State) lasts 720 hours.  

Post-Academy

Once SPD officers leave the State Academy, they normally get 250 hours of additional training with SPD. Some of this training is currently limited or delayed due to COVID-19.

Post-Academy training includes Advanced Crisis Intervention, De-Escalation, Advanced Trauma First Aid, Use of Force Decision Making, Use of Force Reporting, Domestic Violence Response, CPR/AED, and Body Worn Video among other topics.

Student officers then undergo Field Training where they work one on one with experienced field training officers for four months.

They continue their training less intensely for the next seven months with intermittent supervision and review by a training officer. 

Advanced Training - All SPD Officers

Every year Officers are required to take at least 24 hours of refresher or new training called Advanced Training.  This training allows officers to stay up to date with best practices in modern policing. Topics covered vary but have included De-Escalation, Advanced First Aid, Crisis Intervention, Emergency Driving, Implicit Bias, Less Lethal Force and Use of Force among other topics.

All SPD Officers have received de-escalation training, anti-bias training, and crisis intervention training.

 

SPD gets ongoing community feedback from two multi-year, independently-run surveys about our work performance and the areas we should focus on within communities. 

Public Safety Survey (used with Micro-Community Policing Plans)

  • These plans were first implemented in January 2015 and the Seattle Public Safety Survey has been fielded every year.
  • The survey data is used in conjunction with focus groups and police-community engagement to inform and revise the MCPP priorities and strategies.
  • The Seattle Public Safety Survey is conducted independently by Seattle University researchers.  

Key findings:

  • In all 5 years (2015-2019), Car Prowls and the Lack of Police Capacity have remained the #1 or #2 issues, citywide.
  • From 2015-2019, Trust in Police has remained higher for the City of Seattle compared to nationwide.

911 Service Quality Survey

The Department began conducting Service Quality Surveys in June 2006, and conducts 2-4 surveys per year, spread throughout the year. 

The surveys randomly select people who have called 9-1-1 and had an officer dispatched to assist them to get feedback on the service provided by the department. Callers are contacted by phone within two weeks of their calls to 9-1-1.

Key findings in the September 2019 report are:

  • Eighty percent of the customers surveyed rated their overall satisfaction with "this experience with the Seattle Police Department - from calling 9-1-1 on to all contacts [they] had with the Police Department as a result of that call" as 4 or 5 on a five-point scale where 5 means "extremely satisfied,"  for an average rating of 4.18 out of 5 possible points.
  • Over 90 percent of customers said that they "strongly agree" or "agree" that the officer who responded to their 9-1-1 call "was professional and courteous," "listened to [their] concerns," "answered [their] questions," and "provided the assistance [they] needed."  Average ratings on these items ranged from 4.52 to 4.70 out of 5 possible points.
  • Customers said that they were satisfied with the assistance provided by the 9-1-1 operator (91% rated their satisfaction 4 or 5 on the scale where 5 means "extremely satisfied") and the speed with which their calls were answered (87% rated their satisfaction 4 or 5 on this scale), for average ratings of 4.60 and 4.55, respectively, out of 5 possible points.

In January 2020, SPD submitted the last of the reports required under the federal consent decree. Across almost nine years of court-guided reform, SPD developed leading policies in crowd management, crisis intervention, de-escalation, external oversight, and use of force. Here is an overview of the major changes and improvements that have happened over this time.

After years of initial reviews and investigation, the court-appointed monitor began issuing formal, court-mandated assessments of SPD's progress in the major areas of the consent decree in 2015:

  • Force Investigation and Reporting
    • Monitor found SPD to be in initial compliance with the force reporting components of the consent decree. Force reporting, review, and investigation, while in need of some improvements in supervisor reports, were all of sufficient quality and integrity.
  • Force Review Board
    • Monitor concluded that SPD's Force Review Board was functioning well, specifically finding that 85% of cases were handled adequately or better by the FRB than the expectations of the Consent Decree.
  • Community Confidence
    • The Monitor's qualitative assessment of SPD's efforts to improve trust and legitimacy found that SPD engaged in important and appropriate efforts to recalibrate and reset its relationship with Seattle's diverse communities. These efforts resulted in significant changes in independent, scientific survey metrics.
  • Office of Police Accountability (OPA)
    • The Monitor found significant improvement in the quality, integrity, and timeliness of OPA investigations since the previous assessment in 2016.
  • Crisis Intervention
    • The Monitor found SPD in initial compliance with Consent Decree requirements around crisis intervention, noting the team was impressed with SPD's efforts and their outcomes of less than two-percent of crisis contacts involving the use of any force.
  • Supervision
    • The Monitor noted positive progress in supervision practices, including supervisor ratios, supervisor training, unity of command, and direct supervision. Areas were noted for continuing improvement, but the progress resulted in initial compliance.
  • Type II Force Investigation & Re-Assessment  
    • The Monitor noted numerous incidents of SPD employees de-escalating potentially problematic situations, managing individuals experiencing behavioral crisis, and solving problems without the use of force. The assessment called out the important addition of the Administrative Lieutenant position. The Force Review Board was noted as continuing to do a commendable job of oversight and review.
  • Early Intervention System
    • The Monitor found SPD to be in initial compliance with the consent decree sections related to the EIS process. The team noted SPD was one of a few agencies to provide detailed training for supervisors around how to respond when an officer is flagged for review.
  • Use of Force
    • The Monitor found the overall use of force by the SPD to be down. The team noted that force was down even as officer injuries did not increase, and neither did crime. The Monitor further noted that when SPD officers use force, it largely is reasonable, necessary, and proportional, and consistent with policy.
  • Stops, Search and Seizure
    • The Monitor found that SPD officers comply with the legal and policy requirements related to stops, searches, and seizures. The team further found that officers engage in an exceedingly small number of stops, detentions, and frisks, that are not supported by sufficient legal justification. The Monitor found the legality of stops did not differ by race, but initial reviews showed the likelihood of being stopped did. They did acknowledge their analysis could not identify causes of this disparity.

New Policies and Training Protocols

The Monitor, the Department of Justice, and the Court, approved revised and new policies and training protocols in the following major areas: 

  • Use of Force
  • Stops & Detentions
  • Bias-Free Policing
  • Early Intervention System
  • Crisis Intervention

SPD developed additional data dashboards to publicly share data on all uses of force and officer-involved shootings.

Much more information is available about our Professional Standards Bureau, which guides how these standards are implemented in all areas of the Department.