Federal Monitor Submits Training Programs for SPD to Court for Approval

SEATTLE — The court-appointed federal monitor for Seattle police reforms has approved two major training programs for the Seattle Police Department on how to respond to calls involving someone who is impaired or in a mental health crisis, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Monday.

The monitor, Merrick Bobb, submitted the training programs to U.S. District Court Judge James Robart for approval, Murray said.

If approved by the court, all 1,300 sworn officers of the Seattle Police Department will undergo instruction on how best to respond to calls involving a person in a mental health crisis, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or other severe behavioral emergencies by the end of 2014, a news release issued by Murray’s office said.

Murray said he is especially pleased with the crisis intervention training program. “Studies indicate as many as 70 percent of use-of-force incidents involve people in crisis,” he said. “This training will help officers take control of situations and diffuse them, which will reduce the need for force.”

The crisis intervention training will be conducted in phases to ensure that all officers attend an initial eight-hour course as soon as possible, the news release said.  In subsequent phases, all officers will receive “additional training and some will receive specialized training.”

The federal court is also being asked to approve a “street skills training program” in which all 1,300 officers will receive instruction on use of force, including the core principles of the new use-of-force policies, decision-making, team tactics and de-escalation.

The news release said, “Officers will also receive integrated instruction on legal, policy and ethical principles. They will be taught techniques to identify, assess and resolve calls in a legal, safe and efficient manner.”