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Taser Seattle Less Lethal Options Citizen Review 2000

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Less Lethal Weapons Options
Community Workgroup
September 20, 2000
Committee Members:
Debbie Barnes – Human Rights Commission
Community Policing Action Council
Betty Bartholomew – Lake City Task Force
Tita Begashaw – East African Advisory Council
Sandy Blair – US Dept. of Justice: Community Relations Services
Reneschia Brown – Community Policing Action Council
Mary Hurley – Ballard Merchant’s Association
Ray Mitchell – Community Policing Action Council
Valerie Heide Mudra – West Precinct Advisory Council
Frank Sanchez – Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council
Doug Thiel – Cowen Park Advisory Council
North Precinct Advisory Council
Stan Wagner – North Precinct Advisory Council
Sunset Hills Community
Harriet Walden – Mother’s for Police Accountability
Richard Wildermuth – Community Policing Action Council
Sexual Minorities Advisory Council
Mary Williams – Seattle Neighborhood Group
Cathy Wenderoth – A/Director Public Affairs
Harry Bailey – Director, Office of Police/Community Partnerships
Less Lethal Work Group
September 20, 2000

-----------------------------------------------------------------------A group of community members were invited to work with the Seattle Police
Department on the issue of less lethal weapons options. The impetus for

impaneling this work group came out of an incident involving a mentally ill man
who was shot by police after shoplifting and shooting at store security guards.
While the scope of the recommendations herein are specific to less lethal
weapon options, the group has spent the last three months learning about the
policies, procedures, training and barriers encountered by officers when they are
dealing with these highly charged incidents.
The group was invited to participate in a four-week education process that was
conducted by SPD Officers. The topics covered were:


Use of Force Policies and Procedures
Firearms Training
Firearms Training Simulator (Shoot/Don’t Shoot)
SWAT Policies & Procedures
SWAT Demonstration of Less Lethal Weapons

At the conclusion of this process, the work of crafting the recommendations
began. There have been several meetings and many revisions to the original
document. The following is the culmination of the work the group has been doing
over the last three months.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------Crisis Intervention Training: In reviewing the issue of Less Lethal Weapons it
became clear that a first line responder will encounter individuals suffering from
mental illness or some type of crisis as a regular part of his/her day. Because of
the potential for these situations to escalate quickly and thus require more
serious use of force options, the group is recommending the following in terms of
Crisis Intervention Training.
All Patrol Officers and First Responders will receive mandatory eight-(8)
hour Crisis Intervention Training within the next 18 months.
All Sergeants and Lieutenants will be required to attend the 40-hour Crisis
Intervention Training within the next 18 months. Anyone promoted to Sergeant or
Lieutenant who has not completed the 40-hour course will complete such training
within 120 days of promotion.
Precinct Commanders shall determine the minimum number of Crisis
Intervention Trained (40 Hours) Officers necessary to staff Precinct needs. All
Precincts will be at and maintain minimum staffing for CIT within the 18 months.
Successful completion of 40-hour course certifies officer for CIT title.
All certified CIT Officers should receive premium pay to be determined
through labor negotiations.

An eight-(8) hour refresher course on Crisis Intervention will be required
for all patrol officers every two years.
An annual eight-(8) hour refresher course on Crisis Intervention will be
required for any officer who is CIT certified including Sergeants and Lieutenants.
A portion of Crisis Intervention Training will focus on personal safety for
Training on Weapons: This includes training for less lethal as well as handguns
and shotguns that are standard issue to officers.

Prior to OR at the time of issuance of any less lethal weapon, the officer
will successfully complete a mandatory training program on the use of the issued
weapon. All officers must qualify annually in the use of the weapon.
Simulator training will be required a minimum of once a year for first line
responders and every two years for all others.
The Department will train and maintain adequate staff to operate the
Simulator Training recommended in this proposal.
A portion of the training will focus on personal safety for officers.

Weapons and Ammunition:
Members of the group have expressed hesitancy to recommend specific
weapons because of a lack of expertise in this area. The Department
demonstrated a variety of weapon options and we have been made aware that
all weapons may be lethal and that there is no weapon that is perfect. Of what
was presented the following is recommended.

A 12-gauge shotgun with a distinct colored butt for use with the new bean
bags (drag stabilized) will be issued to all patrol vehicles.
All less lethal weapon ammunition must be clearly identified as "less
lethal" by distinct markings easily identified in the field.
The new M26-tasers will be issued to all Patrol Sergeants and other patrol
personnel as training and protocols are developed.
The Department will do an ongoing evaluation of new less lethal weapons,
consulting with other law enforcement agencies, to ensure they are keeping pace
with the new technology.
Policies and Procedures:
Prior to the issuance of less lethal weapons to officers a clear policy and
procedure shall be developed and implemented. These policies and procedures

shall include safety measures for the less lethal weapons, as well as, protocols
for such use, i.e. back up by other officers with lethal weapons, etc.

Budget and Funding:
The SPD will develop a budget for these proposed recommendations and
submit the budget proposal to the Mayor and City Council.
The Mayor and City Council will provide funds for identified training,
acquisition of weapons and ammunition, public education and evaluation of less
lethal weapon program.
This provision will not negatively impact funding for SWAT unit in terms of
staffing, training, and other expenditures that allow them to operate in the fashion
they currently do.

Community Education:
Provide outreach to community to educate on Crisis Intervention Training,
Use of Force, Less Lethal Weapons, and other initiatives the SPD is involved in
regarding this issue.
Provide ongoing information to the community on the incidents where
SWAT or CIT is used and the outcome of those incidents.
Actively promote the use of the term "less lethal" and educate community
on the potential for "less lethal" weapons to cause serious injury or death in some
Develop a stronger relationship with the media to highlight successes of
SPD with press releases to regional and neighborhood papers.

A report shall be submitted to the work group detailing the City and
Department’s response to these recommendations by 1/1/01
At the end of one year an internal and external evaluation shall be
conducted on the Use of Less Lethal Weapons.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------This commission recognizes that the need for a less lethal response is due in
part to the state and the county’s inability to deal effectively with the mentally ill.
Several issues emerged during the course of the work that fall outside the scope
of Less Lethal Weapons Options, but caused concern for the group. It was the
feeling that a number of factors played into the overall effectiveness of Officers

who are responding day after day to incidents that have the potential to end
tragically, much like the one that was the impetus for this report. While we
recognize that the proposals we have submitted will go a long way towards giving
police officers the tools they need to deal with the mentally ill, we sincerely
believe that our elected officials at the state and county level should be
encouraged to provide longer term solutions.
The aforementioned recommendations address the weaponry and training, but
do not represent the totality of what needs to be done. A big issue that Police
must grapple with is the ever-increasing demand put upon them by the
communities they serve. Police are asked to take on everything from parenting to
garbage collection. At the same time, the number of Police Officers and the
budget appropriated has not kept pace with the demand. The fact that a
chronically mentally ill person was out on the street, had access to firearms,
knifes, and other weapons, and had little to no support from the medical
community speaks profoundly to this issue. Then when a tragedy occurs we rush
to blame the Police. City Government needs to do an overall assessment of what
services it provides, and who is responsible for the provision of those services.
After that is completed a clearly stated list of expectations needs to be provided
to all City Agencies with the resources necessary to provide the services
The other issue that arises is that of compensation. Any private business owner
will tell you that the way to attract and keep quality employees is to compensate
them adequately for the work they do. We, as a community, need to decide if we
are willing to pay the price to attract and keep the "best". Police Officers are often
asked to do the impossible and we need to pay them accordingly.
As we learned in compiling these recommendations, the issue of public safety is
an incredibly complex one. We feel we have addressed the issue we were
convened to address, but feel equally as strong that the "solution" cannot be
realized unless we look at what sits underneath the surface of this problem.