Inside look at Seattle Police training methods

In the wake of the deadly officer involved shooting of a wood carver last month, many in the community questioned the training methods of the Seattle Police Department. Today, SPD invited MyBallard and other media outlets to get a behind the scenes look at some new training techniques being put in place along with methods currently being used.

“We did talk about deploying more tasers– using less lethal force options,” said police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.

Officer demonstrates taser techniques

Not all Seattle Police officers carry tasers, but one new step involves arming more officers with the devices. This year, SPD says taser use has actually dropped to an average of 7 incidents a month. They credit the decrease to more people knowing about tasers and the impact they can have on the human body.

“We talk people into custody the vast amount of the time,” said Officer Chris Myers.

Another new program that is already underway requires every member of SPD to take a racial profiling course, with the goal of changing the culture in the department. Verbal judo, the use of words insteads of hands and weapons, is also being taught along with an increased emphasis on deploying crisis intervention team officers to deal with people who may have mental or medical issues.

SPD allowed the media to try out its “shoot or don’t shoot” simulator that puts officers through different scenarios. Officers also go through tactics training in real-time mock situations. After the simulations, instructors debrief the officers to find out why they reacted the way they did.

Another reporter tries out the simulator (above)

“Training has become a significant issue,” said Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer. “Every single day we’re on the job we learn something.”

Deputy Chief Kimerer will oversee a review starting next month into the fatal shooting of wood carver John T. Williams.  Officials did not take questions on the specifics of the Williams case since it is still under investigation.  Our newspaper partner the Seattle Times reports the U.S. Justice Department is now monitoring the case.

Summary of additions to SPD training:

  1. Putting more tasers into the hands of officers
  2. Racial profiling course
  3. Verbal judo
  4. Adding more members to the crisis intervention team

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

23 thoughts to “Inside look at Seattle Police training methods”

  1. Having dealt with police in many cities and countries, I have to say I think the SPD are far too polite and nice while working. Seriously.

  2. Don’t want to get punched by a cop? Don’t shove and swing at them. Don’t want to get shot? Drop your deadly weapon.

    Don’t want to follow a cops orders? Get arrested.

    Pretty simple rules that have kept me out of trouble.

  3. Dear Seattle police officers,

    Please come and spend more time in Ballard. We need you.

    And if you happen to punch out an idiot or two, we’re OK with that. No shortage of them here.

  4. Thanks for showing us an example of what is propably a typical video simulator, which is probably not only a portion of police training but a significant, emphasized portion. It’s easy to see that such clips increase police fearfulness, touchiness, readiness to react, and emphasize the need for spit-second “decision making” (which isn’t really decision making, but rather, a conditioned reflex, or a readiness to react super quick with little or no thought.) The upshot, is lot of shot up people. On the other hand, I expect that police work is often more dangerous these days than when I was young, because America is more violent. Fear, even irrational fear, or even paranoia, are products of living in a society that emphasizes vilolence so much (e.g. in its dailyand nightly entertainment, in its news, etc.) and are much more produced when the violence is real. We ought to be working on ways to wind down or defuse violence, rather than jacking it up, or merely reacting with overwhelming violence. The police need training of a very different nature, which is proplematic, because that requires greater thought and effort to put together, than it does to produce the sort of simple-minded, quick reation oriented video seen here. Dumb down the training and the result not unpredictably is dumb trigger happy cops, and dead or maimed people who “were in the wrong place at the wrong time” which, I guess, okays it, it couldn’t be helped, shit happens, he’s dead, that’s too bad, etc.

  5. There just needs to be more respect toward law enforcement officials in tense situations…its as simple as that. Not doing exactly as a cop says during stressful situations only escalates the problem for everyone involved.

  6. Seriously, did you ask a critical question? How about contacting some people in the world of citizen police review? If their training is so thorough, including “verbal judo,” why have they shot so many people in the last few weeks. I understand police have a tough job, but this looks a lot like a planted article by the SPD PR department.

  7. Exactly. Its not the shoving, shouting, or swearing at the cops that results in these types of altercations…its the color of the skin.


  8. Don’t worry Small Business….maybe the criminals and deviants will put together an inside look about how they select victims, types of weapons they use, and how they take advantage the population at large. Why don’t you sit down with some thugs and write up an article for us?

  9. Seattle police are far to emotionally involved with there job. They should uphold the law and help people. They should be polite and professional. Violent should be a last resort. They should smile and be kind to people. Customer service and safety. That’s what I expect.

  10. And what would you think Seattle police should expect from the public? Or specifically those that they deal with on a daily basis that pose a threat, or won’t cooperate, or are unreasonable?

    Its a two-way street. I seriously doubt the police are cruising around looking to harrass, tase, or shoot people. They have very stressful jobs and are put in situations on a daily basis… they are professionally trained, yet they are human too. They are trained to control situations and stay out of harms way. Suspects need to heed their warnings and not fight back. That is the problem.

  11. There is a violent criminal segment of society that doesn’t respect law enforcement offers. And they respect the rainbow & unicorn cops even less. If they don’t respect the cops do you think they will hesitate in assaulting you? It is unfortunate but cops must be respected and that includes a dose of fear. Criminals don’t fear the system as they know they will get away with crime or have a minimal vacation in jail with their peers. Yes there are some idiot thugs on the police force that are prone to thumping. They should be exposed. But don’t push the whole police dept to become Customer service reps for the city taking care of your petty nuisance greivances. The criminals and thugs are winning. Just like the trolls that are left on the forum. We need a police force that isn’t lazy and commands respect. SPD sadly is not that force.

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