City of Shoreline: Shoreline Police training and policies around use of force

Thursday, June 18, 2020


From the City of Shoreline

Shoreline Police training and policies around use of force

Over the past couple of weeks, we have received numerous questions about Shoreline Police training and policies, particularly around the use of force. While these questions are important any time, they have taken on particular importance in light of recent events. As we struggle to come to terms with our nation’s history of systemic racism and often violent oppression, it is important for us to listen to the community and hear how different policies impact communities of color. Shoreline Police know they must continually work to gain and maintain the trust of the community, especially communities of color and other historically marginalized communities. Shoreline Police strive to treat everyone in a fair and objective manner.

Community dialogue around policing in Shoreline

Over the coming year, the City plans to host opportunities for a community dialogue around policing in Shoreline. We are still in the early planning stages, but we will use a variety of formats to try to engage as many people as possible, understanding that a large community meeting may not be possible for some time due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Shoreline contracts with King County Sheriff’s Office for Police Services

The City of Shoreline contracts with the King County Sheriff’s Office for its police services. Shoreline Police follow the policies of the King County Sheriff’s Department. The King County Executive’s Office negotiates the police guild (union) contract with the King County Police Officers’ Guild. The Guild Contract includes negotiated agreements on working conditions and oversight by the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO). The current contract for the King County Police Officers’ Guild expires at the end of 2021; negotiations are scheduled to begin in the middle of next year.

If you would like to provide input on the contract negotiations, you can contact the King County Executive’s Office at kcexec@kingcounty.gov or 206-263-9600.

Training

The Shoreline Police Department emphasizes de-escalation techniques to avoid the use of force. Our officers receive 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training with an annual mandatory refresher, which prepares them to assist people in crisis for emotional, developmental, or behavioral health reasons. Additional de-escalation training teaches our officers techniques to calm tense encounters to reduce the potential for use of force. Shoreline’s RADAR program, which stands for Response Awareness De-escalation and Referral, aims to decrease use-of-force incidents between police and individuals with behavioral health issues and/or developmental disabilities. The program has become a model for other law enforcement agencies. In fact, the RADAR program has now expanded into a five-city partnership which includes Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, and Kirkland.

Shoreline officers additionally go through eight hours of implicit bias training intended to make them aware of how to counter their own implicit biases and not let those biases impact their policing. The Shoreline Police command staff will continue to ensure Shoreline officers are trained in crisis intervention, de-escalation techniques, and implicit bias. The Shoreline City Council has supported these efforts through additional training funds.

Body Cameras

Shoreline Police Officers do not currently wear body-worn cameras. King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht has shared her support for officers wearing body-worn cameras and has taken steps to make a budget request for body-worn cameras during King County’s 2021-2022 budget process. The City of Shoreline is supportive of this change and will be actively working with King County to see that this budget request is approved.

Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait”

Residents have asked what Shoreline Police policies are related to Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait” initiative. The Sheriff’s General Operation’s Manual outlines its use of force policies, which are addressed in Chapter 6. Here are the current use of force policies related to 8 Can’t Wait:

  • Chokeholds and strangleholds: Officers shall not make any physical application or maneuver to the neck region that restricts blood or air flow (i.e., choke holds, sleeper holds, carotid submission holds, lateral vascular neck restraint, etc.), except as a last resort to protect officers or others from an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury. Any and all variations of these maneuvers may be considered deadly force when applied to the neck region. (Chapter 6.00.050)
  • De-escalation: When safe and feasible, Officers shall use de-escalation tactics to reduce the need for force. De-escalation is a deliberate attempt to minimize or avoid the use of force to resolve a law enforcement incident using communication, tactics, and actions. Examples of de-escalation include calming agitated subjects, providing additional time for responses, and positioning to reduce risk. (Chapter 6.00.025)
  • Warning before shooting: Clear direction and verbal commands shall be given when feasible. (Chapter 6.00.005)
  • Exhaust all alternatives before shooting: Officers shall exhaust every reasonable means of apprehension before resorting to the use of deadly force. (Chapter 6.00.045)
  • Duty to intervene: Failure to report an officer’s possible misconduct (including excessive or unnecessary use of force against a person) may result in discipline up to and including termination. (Chapter 3.03.015)
  • Shooting at moving vehicles: Officers shall not shoot at a moving vehicle, unless: a) deadly physical force is being used against the officer or another person by means other than a moving vehicle; or b) the moving vehicle poses an imminent and identifiable threat of serious physical harm to the officer or others from which there is no reasonable means of escape. For the purposes of this section, officers shall attempt to move out of the path of an oncoming vehicle, if possible, rather than discharge their firearm; and shall not intentionally place themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle and attempt to disable the vehicle by discharging their firearms. Officers shall not discharge their firearms at a fleeing vehicle unless an officer reasonable believes, and can articulate reasons therefore, why the necessity for immediate apprehension outweighs the danger to the public that is created by discharging a firearm. (Chapter 6.00.045)
  • Use of force continuum: Less lethal weapons are tools designed to assist officers to gain control of a physically resistant, or aggressive or violent subject(s) who poses a threat of physical harm to themselves, to the officer(s) or to other persons or property. Less lethal weapons have been adopted for use by the Sheriff’s Office but are not intended to be a substitute when lethal force is necessary. Sworn personnel shall successfully complete training on less lethal weapons prior to using them. All applications of less lethal weapons shall conform to the principles outlined in the training and certification program, consistent with the RCW definition of necessary force (RCW 9A.16.010) and the Use of Force Policy (GOM 6.00.000). (Chapter 6.03.000)
  • Comprehensive reporting: It is the policy of the Sheriff’s Office to promptly report and to thoroughly investigate any use of force or critical incident. Whenever an officer uses deadly force, physical force, a Conducted Electrical Weapon (TASER), chemical agent or Pepper Spray, reporting is mandatory by the officer using force and any officer witnessing the use of force. Failure to report the use of force, when required, is a violation of this policy. Supervisory notification and supervisor response to the scene is required for all incidents outlined in this policy unless expressly exempted. (Chapter 6.01)

The General Operations Manual is updated regularly by the Sheriff’s Office. If you have questions or comments regarding the General Operations Manual, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at sheriff@kingcounty.gov or 206-296-4155.


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