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The Seattle Police Department operates within a framework that divides the city into five geographical areas called "precincts." Under this model, neighborhood-based enforcement personnel in each precinct assume responsibility for public safety management within their geographic area. These officers serve as crime-prevention and law enforcement resources in the communities they serve.

Seattle is divided into five geographic areas. Within those areas are the 5 precincts or police stations: North, East, South, West and Southwest. Precinct boundaries were determined through consideration of neighborhood boundaries, geographic and other natural boundaries.

Each precinct contains smaller geographic areas called Sectors. There are 17 sectors total in the city.

Each of these Sectors are divided into between 3 smaller sections called Beats (i.e. Ocean sector has three beats O1, O2, O3) These are the areas that individual patrol officers are assigned responsibility for.

SPD JURISDICTION and law enforcement partners

Jurisdictional boundaries (which agency is responsible for which areas?) can seem complex. Generally, SPD is responsible for the city limits and waterways in the city of Seattle, however, there are some areas where SPD shares enforcement with other agencies.

Regardless of jurisdictional authority, there the only things the public needs to remember is the following:

  1. If you are having an emergency, all you need to do is call 9-1-1, regardless of your location.
  2. If you need help and see a law enforcement officer - they will respond regardless of the agency they represent.
  3. Any of the following agencies have the authority to detain and arrest people involved in criminal activities, even if they are not considered the primary police agency in that area.

On the University of Washington campus, primary police duties (responding to calls for service and follow-up investigation) are performed by the University of Washington Police Department. The Crime Statistics for this section of the city are also kept by UW Police.

The Port of Seattle also has it's own Police Department, and is the primary law enforcement service for the SeaTac International Airport and port facilities.

Since Seattle is located in King County, the King County Sheriff's Office has jurisdictional authority within the city limits as well, but the Seattle Police are considered the primary police agency. SPD works very closely with the King County Sheriffs Office, especially in border areas of the city limits where jurisdiction can change from one side of the street to the other.

King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit police are the primary police agencies for the Metro Transit and Sound Transit Services, respectively. This includes transit stops, tunnels and related facilities.

The Seattle Police Department shares jurisdictional authority with the WSP on interstate highways with the Washington State Patrol.

Washington State Patrol is also the central repository for criminal history information in the State of Washington and also runs the Crime Lab for the entire state of Washington.

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