SEATTLE – Today, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is releasing a video of a K9 police dog taking a robbery suspect into custody.
The video was released in fulfillment of a public disclosure request, and due to the public interest in police accountability.
Although Chief Carmen Best found the actions of the canine team consistent with 2018 department training, Chief Best also believed the deployment was not consistent with SPD’s Use of Force policy nor the values of the police department.
In late 2018, Chief Best ordered a thorough review of how SPD uses canines. The department worked with the Office of Police Accountability, the court monitor, and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), as well as two independent canine training experts to develop meaningful policy recommendations.
These recommendations led to a new policy, approved by the federal court monitor, the Department of Justice, and ultimately the federal court. Separately, the OIG is currently auditing SPD K9 operations.
In a statement released by SPD on September 15 2019, canine deployments have been limited to the following situations:
– Burglary, not including trespass with non-violent secondary crime
– Robbery, not including thefts that are accompanied by low level assaults
– Serious Assault
– Arson with threat of harm to people
– Domestic Violence felony crimes
– Serious Sexual Assault
– Drive by Shooting, not including unlawful discharge of a firearm
– Domestic Violence Assault
– Domestic Violence Order Violations that are subject to mandatory arrest—violations shall involve the subject’s physical presence at the victim’s location or a threat of harm
For all other crimes where the subject is considered to be armed or there is a threat of harm to the public, approval by an on-scene supervisor with the rank of sergeant or above is needed.
Canine teams should not be used to apprehend anyone suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol if no other serious crime is involved, nor anyone who is experiencing a behavioral crisis, if no other serious crime is involved.