Bothell Police Department Training, Policies and Community Response

June 11, 2020

To our Bothell Community:

During the past few weeks, I have spoken with members of our community and have reaffirmed our department’s commitment to open, transparent, unbiased service to all who work, live and visit the City of Bothell. These conversations have included numerous questions about how our organization addresses use of force events and how we plan to address policy changes and recommendations being brought forward by residents throughout our region. I have listed some of the most common questions we have been hearing and have included our responses.

Respectfully,
Ken Seuberlich
Chief of Police
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
  • Bothell Police Department Policy 208 recognizes the use of neck restraints as a method of restraining and controlling subjects, but states the use of neck restraints may only be applied when deadly force is authorized.
  • Yes. Our policy provides clear guidance to our officers to utilize de-escalation tactics when circumstances permit and when feasible to reduce or eliminate the necessity to use physical force.
  • Any use of force is reviewed and evaluated to determine what de-escalation techniques were used. De-escalation is always a part of the training and policy discussion during our annual use of force training. It is also a mandatory requirement to cover de-escalation in regards to WAC 139-11-020, and Initiative 940 implemented on December 7, 2019.
  • We also participate in the Response Awareness, De-escalation And Referral (RADAR) program, which addresses the rights and needs of individuals with behavioral health issues and/or developmental disabilities. Having the expert help and assistance of these Mental Health Professionals is very valuable for our officers and ultimately may help reduce use of force incidents.
  • Policy 200.10 states, “A verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible.”
  • Policy 200 addresses verbal warnings with respect to all deadly force encounters – not just shootings.
  • Our use of force policy is based on the concept that officers shall use only the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary, given the facts and circumstances at the time of the use of force.
  • Policy 200.8 lists several factors to consider when determining if force is necessary and reasonable. For example, the subject’s mental state or capacity, the availability of other options and their possible effectiveness, and whether the conduct of the individual being confronted no longer reasonably appears to pose an imminent threat to the officer or others.
  • Policy 200.11 states, “Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective and generally discouraged. Unless it reasonably appears that it would endanger officers or the public, officers are expected to move out of the path of any approaching vehicle. This is not intended to restrict an officer’s right to use deadly force directed at the operator of a vehicle when it is reasonably perceived that the vehicle is being used as a weapon against the officer or others. Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.”
  • Yes. Policy 200.4 states, “Any officer present or directly observing another officer using force beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, as soon as practicable, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes, or has information that another employee uses force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law shall promptly report the incident(s) to a supervisor.”
  • The term “use of force continuum” refers to an outdated use of force model. As a state accredited agency, our use of force policy is based on the fundamental concepts of de-escalation, reasonableness and necessity.
  • Yes. As a state accredited agency, we are required to ensure we meet a lengthy list of standards as set forth by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC). The Bothell Police Department has been a long-standing state accredited agency because we continue to meet these standards. One of the standards involves the reporting of force used by officers and it requires that any force capable of causing injury has to be reported. All use of force events are thoroughly reviewed by a supervisor, a division captain, and the Professional Standards Unit to ensure compliance with our policies, state standards, and legal requirements. In certain cases, such as an officer involved shootings or deadly force encounters, an independent investigative team will be assigned to investigate the incident.
  • Currently, we do not equip our officers with body worn cameras, however the department supports the implementation of a body worn camera program.
  • There are a wide range of budgetary, legislative and privacy concerns associated with implementing officer worn body cameras. In addition to the cost of the equipment and systems, this would require additional staffing to manage and maintain video files and to provide services for public disclosure requests. As part of our budgeting process, we will continue to evaluate available resources required to implement this program.
  • We will continue to monitor the legislative actions regarding these issues.
  • Ultimately, our community evaluates us and our service. We work for you and our actions and public safety services must meet our community’s needs and standards.
  • We are a state accredited agency and have been for many years. As such, we are operating under defined industry standards, to include areas such as code of conduct, internal affairs, prisoner security, hiring, retention, training, discipline, de-escalation and use of force.
  • In 2019, we were re-accredited, which is a process we complete every four years. As part of that process, we meet 137 different standards set forth by WASPC, to show we are in compliance with best practices and standards. Of the 244 law enforcement agencies in Washington, we are one of 52 that are designated as state accredited.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
We have, and will continue to engage with our community. Our department works closely with many of our community groups and partners, including the Northshore School District, college campuses, faith-based leaders and businesses. However, we recognize we can improve reaching out to our communities of color. As part of the public safety levy, our community supported a new, non-uniformed, civilian Community Engagement Coordinator to help organize more deliberate and on-going engagement with the public. We are continuing to strategize what this engagement will look like, but we are confident it will include recurring, informal meetups with officers and residents, centered around topics of race and conversations about implicit bias. We look forward to improving our efforts to engage with our minority community leaders, business owners and faith-based leaders. This outreach may also include using facilitators or diversity consultants to help us with bias training and/or to lead genuine conversations with our community. If you would like to receive updates on any of these upcoming events or conversations, please follow us on social media or subscribe to: www.bothellwa.gov/NotifyMe - News Flash / Police News.
We want to hear feedback about our officers. If you have a complaint, compliment or want to send us feedback, the easiest way to do this is by using our online form. You can also call the department directly at 425-486-1254 and ask for a supervisor, or, if you are not comfortable reporting directly to the police, you can call the City Manager at 425-806-6100.
Our policies and procedures are available here for the public to view.