2020 Data Shows Arrests, Use of Force Continue To Be Rare With Those in Crisis

The latest report on SPD’s Hostage Negotiations Team(HNT) and crisis responses shows arrests and use of force continues to be a rare occurrence when officers are dealing with persons in crisis. With 98 HNT responses reported last year, more than half of those calls were resolved either prior to their arrival or with the use of negotiation. This is a testament to the impact of enhanced training as part SPD’s Crisis Intervention Program. 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.

The HNT unit is called out to crisis incidents that involve reports of weapons, people making threats to harm themselves or others, and DV related calls among others. Below is how the numbers for 2020 break down.

  • 96 calls for service of which 35 were classified solely criminal in nature and 32 solely crisis in nature and 28 as both. (One was protest-related.)
  • On 30 incidents the subject was classified as suicidal (31%)
  • 4 incidents listed a hostage situation
  • 23 involved a report of a firearm and 23 a report of an edged weapon (58% combined)
  • 37 were DV related (39%)
  • The calls are distributed throughout the precincts. East had 27 and Southwest 11 with the other precincts in between. There were two responses outside of the city, including a mutual aid request to assist with a hostage situation in Issaquah. The calls were spread out through the months, days of the week, and watches
  • May had 14, but June and November only had 4 each 39 of the incidents were resolved through negotiation (41%) and 20 prior to HNT involvement (21%). In 23 incidents negotiation was deemed ineffective (24%). In those incidents where HNT was deemed ineffective, efforts still contributed to the de-escalation process.

Officers responded to over 9000 reports of a person in crisis in 2020.

  • Officers used reportable force 170 times (0.008% of total calls) with more than 51% of those cases being Type 1 use of force for a complaint of handcuff pain.
  • The most common resolution to these calls (approximately 39%) was through the use of an emergent detention, where a person is transported to a local hospital for additional services.
  • Only 7.5% of all crisis calls resulted in an arrest.
  • Crisis calls are distributed throughout the city with West accounting for 27%, the most, and Southwest, the least, at 10%.

The SPD continues its commitment to developing stronger analytic abilities to evaluate performance, and working with external partners to improve and expand service models. The SPD will be posting a complete analysis on all data relating to crisis and use of force in the coming weeks. We will also be updating the Blotter quarterly with stats as they become available so that you can easily follow along with our progress. Finally, we also have a public dashboard available here.