6.135 - Cooperating Witnesses

Effective Date: 03/20/2013


This policy applies when utilizing cooperating witnesses for investigative or intelligence purposes.

Cooperating Witness (CW) - Cooperating Witnesses are not confidential informants and may be subpoenaed to testify to their involvement in investigations stemming from their information or services. A CW is willing to provide information to police about the criminal activity of others and/or facilitate the delivery of illegal drugs or other items related a crime in exchange for a release from custody in lieu of being booked into jail.

1. Only Investigative Bureau Detectives and Anti-Crime Team (ACT) Personnel Shall Utilize CWs

Patrol officers shall contact the sergeant of the appropriate investigative unit or ACT if they encounter a subject who wishes to act as a CW.

CWs under DOC supervision or other court restricted status require approval from the overseeing agency prior to their use.

  • Approval documentation must be sent to the appropriate follow-up unit.

2. ACT Shall Obtain Watch Lieutenant Approval Prior to Use of a CW

3. The Watch Lieutenant Can Approve a Temporary 5-Day, One-Time Use Request for Use of the CW

4. Any Subsequent Investigative Work With the CW by ACT Can Only be Conducted With Approval From the Appropriate Follow-Up Unit Sergeant

(See 6.135-PRO-1 ACT Utilization of a CW)

5. Investigative Bureau Detectives Shall Obtain Sergeant Approval Prior to Use of a CW

6. ACT and Investigative Bureau Sergeants Shall Maintain Oversight of the Use of CWs

7. Officers Shall Inform CWs of the Requirements of Their Assistance

Detectives shall inform CWs that they may have to testify in court as to their assistance.

After the CW agrees to the terms of their assistance, an ACT sergeant may approve their release from custody, if appropriate.

  • Personnel shall not make or imply promises in regards to prosecution, or filing decisions related to the incident in which the CW was arrested.

8. Detectives Shall Not Utilize Persons Under 16 Years of Age as CWs

9. Detectives Shall Obtain Approval to Utilize Persons 16 or 17 Years of Age as CWs

The detective shall obtain approval from the Assistant Chief of the investigations bureau prior to use of these persons as CWs.

6.135-PRO-1 ACT Utilization of a Cooperating Witness(CW)

ACT Sergeant

1. Contacts a watch lieutenant requesting temporary approval to use a CW.

Watch Lieutenant

2. Reviews the request.

If the request if for use of a CW who has previously been used as such, contacts the appropriate follow-up unit sergeant for approval to utilize the CW.

3. Considers factors in the use of the CW such as:

  • Officer safety/life safety
  • Credibility of the CW
  • Threat assessment/risk analysis of the police operation
  • Availability of police resources

4. Considers disqualifying CWs when their arrest situation or criminal history includes:

  • Crimes of violence or assault
  • Domestic violence assault
  • Assaults on law enforcement

5. Consults the appropriate follow-up unit (if necessary)

6. Approves a temporary (5-day, one-time use) request.

ACT Sergeant

7. Assigns officer(s) to work with the CW.

ACT Officer(s)

8. Completes appropriate paperwork for the CW.

(See 6.135-TSK-1 Completing Cooperating Witness Forms and Preparing an Alert Packet)

6.135-TSK-1 Completing Cooperating Witness Forms and Preparing an Alert Packet

When completing forms associated with the use of a CW, an officer:

1. Completes the Cooperating Witness Checklist (form 22.7) prior to working with a CW.

2. Additionally, after receiving approval to work with a person as a Cooperating Witness, completes the following forms with the CW:

  • Cooperation Disclaimer (form 22.8)
  • Cooperation Release (form 22.9)

3. Prepares an Alert Packet for the appropriate follow-up unit including the following additional items:

  • Printout of the CW’s criminal history/NCIC III.
  • At least one officer statement which serves as a “police witness” to the CW’s words and actions related to the incident under which the CW’s testimony was obtained.


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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