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Sirens & Gavels

All the SPD policies changed during the Department of Justice review (so far)

This post has been updated since it was originally publish to clarify changes on the firearms policy.

I've written before about the Spokane Police Department's new use of force policy. Among the highlights: they'll be counting batons, neck restraints, tear gas and pepper spray as uses of force and hold monthly administrative meetings to review use of force incidents.

For those of you who like a bit more detail, here are copies of all the policies that SPD has so far revised and released as a result of the Department of Justice review. I have a public records request pending for other policies, including the early intervention system and the new standard operating procedures for internal affairs, and will post those when I get them.

The pre-revision versions of all these policies can be found in the 2013 SPD policy manual. And as always, you can track all of the DOJ reforms on our handy page here.

Policy 106 - Policy Manual 

Perhaps the most exciting update involved adding a section on how policy updates should happen. The revised policy says they go through the chain of command to the Office of Professional Accountability.

Policy 300 - Use of Force and Statement on Revision

Policy 302 - Use of Force and Deadly Force Administrative Review

Policy 308 - Control Techniques

These three policies were sent out in a department-wide training bulletin on Dec. 10, 2015 and released to media in January. The new use of force policy adds several types of force that must be reported and specifies that officers have to fill out a report in the department's BlueTeam system for deadly uses of force.

The administrative review policy establishes a new Use of Force Review Board which meets monthly to review use of force incidents. The board is not disciplinary and is separate from the chain-of-command review that occurs for all uses of force, as well as any investigation that would occur following a complaint about excessive force. The board's purpose is to review incidents to make suggestions for department training and policy.

The control techniques policy combines several different policies from the old manual, including instructions for using Tasers and neck restraints. It also specifies that any neck restraint designed to render someone unconscious by temporarily limiting blood flow to the brain must be debriefed individually during a Use of Force Review Board meeting.

Policy 310 - Officer-Involved Shootings

This policy now allows the department to begin an administrative investigation into a deadly use of force before the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office has decided whether to criminally charge the officers. The Department of Justice recommended the administrative investigation be started earlier due to the long amount of time the prosecutor often takes to review cases. However, the new policy says involved officers should only be interviewed once the prosecutor has delivered findings or by direction from the chief of police after consulting with unions.

Policy 312 - Firearms

The updated policy has new sections on rifles and shotguns to address a DOJ finding that the department lacked guidance on when to deploy them. 


Rachel Alexander
Rachel Alexander came to the Spokesman-Review in 2014 after working for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She covers social services, health and science for the City Desk and writes a monthly data-focused column, Know Spokane.

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