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14.060 - Serious Incident Plan

Effective Date: 05/07/2019


Officer safety will be the priority when responding to a serious incident. Once the incident is made safe, the officers will attend to the injured, locate suspects and witnesses, secure the scene and preserve evidence. Some examples of serious incidents are homicides, sexual assaults, officer involved shootings, serious injuries where death may be likely, and kidnappings.

I. Primary Officer Responsibilities

A. The first officer on the scene of a serious incident will assume the role of the primary officer. The primary officer will take control of the scene and direct the activity until relieved by a sergeant.

1. The primary officer will request that a sergeant respond to the scene.

B. Officer safety is the first priority. The primary officer will direct responding officers, advising the safe access route, and a safe staging area.

C. Once the scene has been secured, the investigation of the incident can proceed.

D. Officers on the scene will administer first aid to injured persons and request medic units to respond when necessary.

1. Use universal precautions to minimize contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. See 3.045-Bloodborne Pathogens

2. If certain signs of death are present (e.g. rigor mortis, lividity, odor, etc.) do not touch or move the body.

E. Establish an inside and outside perimeter, around the scene with yellow crime scene tape, keeping all unauthorized persons out. Responding Detective Sergeants will deploy Red Crime Scene Tape around the inner perimeter of any major crime scene. The red tape will denote the area(s) where the most critical evidence is located.

1. The perimeter should be marked off with crime scene tape as soon as it is safe to do so.

2. The perimeter will be maintained until officers are released by a sergeant.

3. Limit access to only those involved in the investigation.

F. Maintain a detailed Crime Scene Log.

1. The responding Detective Sergeant will ensure that an on-scene officer is assigned to crime scene log duty and will provide the officer with blank log sheets. Once the red crime scene tape is in place and the “log officer” is assigned, anyone who enters the area cordoned off in red tape, regardless of rank, will have to sign in and sign out of the scene and may be responsible for providing a statement as to their business and activity in the scene. Officers who entered the scene prior to the application of red crime scene tape must complete a statement regarding their business and activity in the scene. The Crime Scene Log is not limited to SPD personnel; representatives of all agencies with a need to enter the scene must sign in and sign out. This includes the Seattle Fire Department, any ambulance attendant, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, or any other agency. Once the crime scene investigation is complete and the scene is released, the “log officer” will submit the completed log forms to the on-scene Detective Sergeant or the CSI Sergeant. The Sergeant will deliver the completed log forms to the case detective(s). The crime scene log will become part of the case file and may be subject to defense discovery.

G. Detain suspect(s) and witnesses separately. Instruct witnesses not to talk to anyone about the incident. Obtain statements when possible.

H. Broadcast all available suspect information.

I. Preserve the crime scene and any evidence in its original location and condition unless it creates a hazard or risks becoming contaminated.

1. Note transient details, such as time of day, whether the lights were on or off, signs of activity, position of doors and windows, unusual odors, persons at the scene upon arrival and the position of an injured victim.

2. Do not touch or move an item of evidence unless it is necessary to protect it from being damaged or destroyed. Avoid touching, moving or stepping in areas sensitive to the scene. Use the same route in and out of the scene, avoiding a route a suspect might have used. Do not use any of the facilities at the scene (e.g., sinks, bathrooms, telephones, etc.). Document anything that is touched or moved. Utilize door locks, barricades, crime scene tape, other officers, and rope to secure the scene. Protect the entry and exit paths used by the criminal. Protect any evidence in danger of being destroyed by weather or other factors.

J. Guarding Injured or Deceased Persons

1. An officer will be assigned to stay with the person until relieved by a sergeant. This includes riding with the person to the hospital and staying with them once they arrive at the hospital.

a. Injured Person(s): The officer assigned to guard the victim/suspect should give their sergeant the condition of the injured person, as that information becomes available. Secure clothing from the victim or suspect at the hospital. List the names of the hospital staff who removed the clothing and anyone at the hospital that talked to the victim or suspect. In the case of sexual assault the clothing and evidence collected will be retained by the hospital.

b. Deceased Person(s): Do not remove the clothing of the deceased. Instruct the hospital attendants not to release the property of the deceased to anyone other than the Medical Examiner or police personnel.

II. Patrol Sergeant Responsibilities

A. A sergeant will respond to the scene and take command. The sergeant in command will:

1. Request a follow-up unit call out response;

2. Determine any additional personnel required and assign specific responsibilities to sergeants / officers on the scene;

3. Ensure Communications receives updated information;

4. Ensure the security of the scene;

5. Turn control of scene over to the follow-up investigators, upon their arrival;

6. Brief the Watch Lieutenant; and

7. Ensure the proper paperwork has been completed.

B. Once the follow-up detective(s) arrive and assume control of the scene, they have full command of the scene. Completion of the investigation is the responsibility of the follow-up unit.

III. Watch Lieutenant Responsibilities

A. Respond and assume command.

B. Ensure sergeant responsibilities have been completed.

C. Brief arriving units.

D. Designate a media staging area.

E. Check call status with Communications Section.

1. If there are too many waiting calls, request assistance from other precincts or request that the Communications Section starts screening low priority calls.

F. Consider psychological support for officers for involved squad and precinct.

1. Psychologist

a. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing

b. Peer Counselors

G. Consider Department-wide announcement for on-duty officers via Mobile Data Device.


Adrian Diaz, Chief of Police
Address: 610 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98104-1900
Mailing Address: PO Box 34986, Seattle, WA, 98124-4986
Phone: (206) 625-5011
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