Before The Badge (BTB)

The Seattle Police Department hears the many voices demanding real and lasting change in policing. As a result, the department has launched a first-of-its-kind new training program that focuses on interpersonal relationships and wellness before law enforcement tactics.

Before SPD’s new recruits attend the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission for their mandatory 720-hour Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) training they will first attend Before the Badge (BTB). This training, launched in May 2022, immerses all SPD recruits in community-based, peer-based, and introspective experiences that will provide them both a lens through which to receive their eventual BLEA training and a foundation upon which to build their careers as Seattle Police Officers. During Before the Badge, SPD recruits will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the people they will eventually swear to serve and protect. Because of BTB, recruits will first build relationships with the people of Seattle – before they receive their badges.

Before the Badge is made up of three basic parts: 

  • Meet with community groups to have discussions as individuals about policing in Seattle
  • Work with the Wellness Unit to obtain tools to help with the stresses of the job
  • Learn about SPD precincts, officers, opportunities, and leadership 

In addition, BTB includes exploration of the policing profession’s racist history, gender responsiveness, and the science of relationship-based policing.

Before the Badge is designed to provide pre-academy recruits with foundational knowledge, skills, and relationships to succeed as partners in the community and leaders in this department. Grounded in principles of relational policing, officer wellness, and collaboration, BTB brings recruits together in honest dialogue with Seattle’s diverse communities, department colleagues, and City leaders and reflects SPD’s commitment that its officers provide a safe and supportive culture in which to grow and serve. 


  • Before the Badge (BTB) is an SPD-led five week pre-academy course that builds a solid foundation of community understanding and wellness for officers
  • Based on principles of relational policing, which is a law enforcement practice that relies on community trust and partnerships
  • Police Recruits and Community Service Officers meet with and have honest, open dialogues with the Seattle public about the history of policing in their communities, their expectations of how officers should interact with people in those communities, and the public safety challenges those communities face.
  • BTB also trains recruits on research-based wellness techniques to help cope with the stresses of the job, resulting in officers that can more effectively interact with the public.