Disciplinary Appeals

What is an Appeal?

If an SPD officer is disciplined as a result of an OPA investigation, the officer has the right to appeal. This right comes from City law, State law, and the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Seattle Police Officers' Guild (SPOG) and the City of Seattle. The current CBA outlines two ways for officer discipline to be appealed: via the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC) or arbitration. The discipline cannot be appealed through both forums.

What Discipline Can Be Appealed?

Officers can appeal:

  1. Terminations
  2. Suspensions
  3. Written Reprimands
  4. Demotions

The City and SPOG disagree on whether Oral Reprimands can be appealed, and this issue hasn't yet been resolved. For purposes of transparency, the disputed appeals for Oral Reprimands are listed in the table below.

Importantly, discipline is imposed at the time it is issued. SPD does not wait for the appeal to be concluded before disciplining an officer.

How is Discipline Appealed?

  • A three-member body hears the appeal; the hearing is open to the public.
  • The Mayor and the City Council each appoint one member to the body. The third is elected by City Civil Service employees.
  • Within 90 days of the hearing, they issue a decision, including findings of fact, conclusions of law, and an order.

  • A single, neutral decision maker hears the appeal; the hearing is not open to the public.
  • The arbitrator is selected from a permanent panel of arbitrators (see Article 14.2 of the SPOG contract for more details).
  • The arbitrator can uphold the Chief's findings and discipline, overturn them completely, or modify them in accordance with the employee's labor contract.

Appeal Outcomes

There are three primary ways a disciplinary appeal can be resolved:

  1. Affirmed - the decision of the Chief on findings and discipline is upheld
  2. Modified - the discipline is altered in part
  3. Overturned - the findings and discipline are completely overturned

Appeals can be settled between the officer and the City, which involves the parties agreeing on a modified disciplinary finding or other terms. After a settlement is reached, the appeal is withdrawn. 

While less common, appeals can also be withdrawn by the officer/union or dismissed by the appellate body. 


OPA's Closed Case Summaries for the cases that were appealed can be viewed here

Open Officer Appeals
OPA Case # Date of Discipline Disciplinary Decision Date of Appeal Appeal Type

This table is a public dataset available for download here.

Learn More About Appeals

Visit OPA's Guiding Documents page to view Seattle's police accountability legislation and SPD collective bargaining agreements.

Other Resources