Latest Report Shows Arrests, Use of Force Continue To Be Rare With Those in Crisis

The latest report published today on SPD’s Crisis Intervention Program shows arrests and use of force continues to be a rare occurrence when officers are dealing with persons in crisis. With approximately 9,300 crisis responses reported last year, only 149 (1.6%) involved any use of reportable force, and of these, only 36 (0.4% of crisis responses overall) involved greater than a low-level, Type I use of force. This is a testament to the impact of enhanced training and data collection as part SPD’s Crisis Intervention Program. When compared to the estimation cited by the Department of Justice in 2011 that more than 70% of force incidents involved persons in crisis, these latest numbers are clear evidence that SPD officers have embraced, and are applying in practice, the de-escalation and CIT skills that are now emphasized in training.

“Over the last few years under Chief O’Toole’s leadership, SPD has seen marked success in addressing issues related to use of force, particularly when encountering people in crisis,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Historically, these specific encounters too often ended with an officer using force, but today the department has turned its focus to services and de-escalation. This is critical as our city grows and our police continue improving their relationship with the community.”

“Like most police agencies, the Seattle Police Department provides aid and service at a far greater frequency than engaging in enforcement,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “SPD recognizes the need to harness community resources to address the complicated issue of behavioral crisis. I’m proud the SPD has made great strides in this important area. We will continue to work with our community partners on innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to service those experiencing crises in our city.”

Since the publication of the last report SPD has:

  • Implemented a new data collection template, allowing for more accurate, robust, and consistent reporting of crisis contacts, and partnered with Code for America, a technology non-profit, to develop a tool that allows for greater individualized responses to subjects in crisis.

 

  • Delivered advanced training to both CIT-certified and non-certified officers in a wide range of topic areas related to crisis events, including specialized training in advanced topics and integrated, scenario-based training that provides officers the opportunity to reinforce these skills in practice.

 

  • Added, by way of officers voluntarily seeking certification, to the already high number of CIT-certified officers available to respond to crisis incidents across all precincts and watches. More than 58% of patrol officers are now CIT-certified, allowing a CIT-certified officer to be on-scene at nearly 75% of the approximately 9,300 unique crisis incidents documented over the year covered in this report.

 

  • Enhanced the frontline response of Crisis Response Teams, providing more patrol support, field outreach, and coordination with service providers, shelters, and day services.

The Department was pleased by the Monitor’s finding earlier this year that SPD was in initial compliance with all components of the Consent Decree relating to crisis intervention – including policies, training, deployment, and responses. The SPD continues to be recognized as a national model for crisis intervention with departments from all over the country visiting Seattle to learn from its practices. SPD will continue its commitment to the crisis intervention program, developing stronger analytic abilities to evaluate performance, and working with external partners to improve and expand service models.

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Download the full report here.