LPD Training, Policies, and Community Response

Tom Davis, Chief of Police

To our Lynnwood Community:

I have received numerous questions about the Lynnwood Police Department related to our policies, training, data collection, and other topics as they relate to the horrific events in Minneapolis where a police officer killed George Floyd. As I stated in my original letter to our community, what happened in Minneapolis was abhorrent and I echo the urgent need to speak out against injustice. Police officers take an oath to protect the public – that means all members of the public. Our values of Professionalism, Vigilance, and Community do not discriminate. It is not enough for law enforcement agencies to say what happened was wrong. We must be willing to look within to ensure our policies and actions are carried out in such a way to fulfill our oath and our department’s core values. As you review the information below, I want to reiterate we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming city for everyone who lives, works, and visits our community.

The following is meant to provide information to our community related to the questions I have received. I felt it was important for this information to be available to the community at-large. There are links provided which will direct you to additional information related to these topics. It is, and has been, our goal to be transparent and responsive to our community in the provision of law enforcement services.

Police Chief Tom Davis 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does your Use of Force Policy allow for chokeholds and strangleholds?

No.

“Chokeholds” and “strangleholds” are, by their very definition, designed to restrict airflow.  Because of the obvious danger, these types of holds were eliminated from our use of force policy years ago.

Additionally, we have recently updated our Use of Force policy prohibiting applications of force that restrict oxygen or blood flow to the head or neck.  Policy now specifically prohibits "chokeholds", "strangleholds", Lateral Vascular Neck Restraints® , and the carotid control hold, unless, in those rare circumstances deadly force is justified. 

 

Does your Use of Force Policy require de-escalation?

Yes.

Our policy provides clear guidance to our officers to utilize de-escalation tactics when practical.

Policy section 300.3.1 states “When safe, under the totality of the circumstances, and when time and circumstances permit, officers should use de-escalation tactics in order to reduce the need for force.”

Does your Use of Force Policy require a warning before shooting?

Policy 300.4 (b) addresses verbal warnings with respect to all deadly force encounters – not just shootings:

“An officer may use deadly force to stop a fleeing subject when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death, and the officer reasonably believes that there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to any other person if the subject is not immediately apprehended. Under such circumstances, a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible.”

Does your Use of Force Policy require officers to exhaust all alternatives before shooting?

Our entire use of force policy is based on the concept that force, when applied by an officer, must be reasonable and necessary.  Our policy specifically states the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury.  You might ask, how does an officer determine what is reasonable?  Our policy lists several different factors for officers to consider when determining if force is necessary.  For example, what is the subject’s mental state or capacity?, what is the subject’s age or size?, are there other options available?  All of these factors are detailed in policy section 300.3.3 and are used by the officer(s) to determine if force is necessary and reasonable.

Does your Use of Force Policy ban shooting at moving vehicles?

No, it does not outright ban shooting at vehicles.  We have a very detailed policy regarding shooting both at or from a moving vehicle.

Policy 300.4.1 states, “Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others. Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle."

Does your Use of Force Policy include a duty to intervene provision?

Yes.

Policy 300.2.1 states, “Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force.  An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.”

Does your Use of Force Policy require a "use of force continuum?"

The specific term "use of force continuum" refers to an outdated use of force model.  As a state accredited agency, our use of force policy is grounded in the fundamental concepts of de-escalation and reasonableness.  If force is necessary, then the officer uses only that amount of force that is reasonable given the facts and circumstances at the time of the event – and only for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.  This is inline with current best practices in the policing profession.

Does your policy require comprehensive reporting?

Yes.  To be a state accredited police department by the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs, agencies must ensure they meet a lengthy list of standards designed to ensure agencies are using best practices.  The Lynnwood Police Department has been a long-standing state accredited agency because we continue to meet these standards.  One of those standards involves the reporting of force used by officers and it states that any force capable of causing injury has to be reported. We use a modern computer tracking system to ensure force events go through a robust review process to ensure compliance with our policy and this state standard.   But higher levels of force are even further scrutinized; sometimes via a formal Board of Review process, or if necessary, an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards. In certain cases, such as an officer involved shooting, we can request the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team (SMART) to conduct  an independent investigation of the incident. To read more about our reporting requirements check out section 300.5.1 and policy section 302 Boards of Review.  Also see our 2018 Force, Pursuits, and Collisions Report in the Reports & Statistics section linked below under "More Information".

Do your officers wear body cameras?

No. Currently, our officers are not equipped with body worn cameras.

The Lynnwood Police Department conducted a body worn camera pilot project in 2016.  Since that time, we continue to analyze and discuss our ability to fully implement a body worn camera program.  However, there is a wide range of budgetary, legislative, and privacy concerns associated with implementing these systems.  Of note, is the aspect of public records requests involving recorded video. We continue to monitor the legislative action around this issue and connect with other local agencies that are implementing these systems.  Currently, we do not have the staffing needed to redact the camera footage as part of a public disclosure request.  As technology evolves, including the potential development of video redacting software, this process could become more manageable.

We are currently in budget preparation for the next two years and I strongly support the implementation and usage of these systems.  Further, I commit to examine this issue as part of that process to determine if the budget would support the addition of a body worn camera program. 

Is the Lynnwood Police Department a State Accredited Agency?

Yes.  We have been an accredited police department for many years.

What does this mean?  Being an accredited police department means we are operating under industry best practices and standards to include areas such as code of conduct, internal affairs, prisoner security, hiring, retention, training, discipline, de-escalation and use of force policies and procedures.

We re-accredited in 2017 and are up for re-accreditation every four years, so we will submit for re-accreditation in 2021. As part of the process we have to demonstrate that we meet almost 150 different standards to show we are in compliance with best practices and industry standards.  We are one of 56 other agencies who are designated as an accredited agency in the State of Washington and I encourage you to learn more about the accreditation process by reviewing the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs (WASPC) website.

 

What is the hiring process for becoming a police officer?

Becoming a police officer for the City of Lynnwood involves a series of steps and candidates must successfully pass each step before proceeding to the next part of the process.  Entry-level candidates begin the testing process with Public Safety Testing, Inc., where they must pass both physical and written exams.  An eligibility list is established from the scores we receive from Public Safety Testing, Inc.  Top candidates will initially be asked to submit to a polygraph examination.  Upon successful completion of the polygraph examination, candidates are then invited to an interview with the Lynnwood Police Department.  The interview is with a panel of command officers.  From there, successful candidates undergo a rigorous psychological evaluation, a medical examination, and a thorough and extensive background investigation.  Only after successfully completing all stages of this process will the candidate then be invited to an interview with the Chief of Police who makes a final determination after an evaluation of the candidate.

Lateral candidates undergo a similar process except they apply directly with our police department.  Lateral candidates are also required to undergo a polygraph examination, a psychological evaluation, a medical examination and a thorough background investigation.

To learn more about Lynnwood Police Department Careers and Opportunities please click here.

 

 
additional information:

Letter to the Community Regarding the Death of George Floyd

Chief Davis Message to the Community Regarding Death of George Floyd

Published on May 29, 2020

To our Lynnwood Community,

I, like so many others, have watched the disturbing video of George Floyd’s arrest in Minneapolis, which led to his untimely death. And I, like so many other chiefs and sheriffs from police agencies across the state of Washington and the nation, feel it important to speak candidly about my deep concern over this incident.

Police officers take an oath to protect the public— that means all members of the public, and it is my commitment to you that every single day that’s what the hardworking men and women of the Lynnwood Police Department set out to do. Our job is to recognize any unconscious bias we may hold and not make a value judgement based upon skin color, religion, sexual orientation or any other differences that define us as individuals but rather to see you, a community member, who needs our help. 

There is no way around it; what happened in Minneapolis is wrong.  The video is difficult to watch and hard to understand, but we must speak out against injustice.  These are not the actions of men and women who should wear our badge, and these officers must be held accountable.

I want to assure the Lynnwood community that we are committed to being a safe and welcoming city for all people and reiterate that your police officers are here to make you feel that way. We continue our commitment to work in collaboration with the Lynnwood Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission as well as other community organizations that seek to unite our diverse city. Our department’s core values are “Professionalism, Vigilance, and Community”; these core values do not discriminate.

Respectfully,

Tom Davis

Chief of Police, Lynnwood Police Department

 

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Community Statement Regarding George Floyd

This is a joint letter from the Snohomish County Sheriff and Police Chief's Association Regarding George Floyd.

SCSPCA Message Regarding George Floyd(PDF, 246KB)


Safe, Welcoming & Equitable Resolution

In 2017, Mayor Nicola Smith, the Lynnwood City Council, and Chief of Police Tom Davis co-signed Resolution 2017-03 reaffirming the City of Lynnwood's commitment to be a safe, welcoming, and equitable community for all. That resolution says the following:

  • Lynnwood is a City with great diversity that includes racial, ethnic, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, gender identification, country of origin, veteran status, differently-abled, as well as a diversity of thought, religion, workforce and marketplace.

  • In Lynnwood, all members of our community that choose to live here peacefully, have the right to be treated fairly and to live their lives with dignity, free from discrimination or targeting based on their race, religion, country of origin, or any other identity.

  • The best way to engage underserved and underrepresented communities with local government is through creating trusting relationships built upon mutual respect and understanding.

  • The City of Lynnwood understands that a healthy city is one in which all members of the community have an equity-based opportunity to access city services, participate in the public process, and feel safe and welcome in their community.

  • The City of Lynnwood is committed to being pro-equity in city practices and governance through our actions, processes and decisions.

  • In the City of Lynnwood elected officials have a duty to serve all members of our community and protect their basic human rights, ensure their safety, and social well-being.

  • We strongly condemn acts of hate, violence, intimidation, harassment or any other acts that are based on age, race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, gender identity, ability, faith, housing status, sexual orientation, economic status or other social status.

The City of Lynnwood commits to: 

  1. The City Council, Mayor, and Police Chief are committed to making Lynnwood a safe, welcoming, and equitable community for everyone that lives, works, plays, does business, goes to school in, or visits our city.
  2. The City Council, Mayor, and Police Chief are committed to standing together with the people of Lynnwood in opposing hate, violence, and acts of intolerance committed against our community members.
  3. The City Council, Mayor, and Police Chief are committed to continuing our pro-equity work, reaching out and connecting with our community members to ensure that our programs are accessible and open to all individuals.

Safe Welcoming and Equitable Community Resolution(PDF, 95KB)

 

Lynnwood Police Department Policy Manual

  • You can view our policy manual here:
  • Below are several policy sections to assist with navigation:
    • Policy 2 – Mission, Vision and Values

      This section provides insight about what we value as a police department with respect to treating people with dignity, fostering trust, and partnering with our community.

    • Policy 300 – Use of Force

      To support our mission, the Lynnwood Police Department carefully tracks and reviews significant events that can sometimes occur when providing law enforcement services.  Regard for human dignity is part of our Mission Statement and force, when used, is only used when it is necessary and reasonable.  This section details the force policies our officers follow in those circumstances when force is applied.  The term “De-Escalation” is defined right at the beginning of this policy section and is an integral part of both our force policy and training curriculum.  This section also details our review process for applications of force.

    • Police 302 – Boards of Review
      All force is reviewed to ensure compliance with policy, but higher levels of force are further scrutinized via a formal Board of Review process, or if necessary, an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards.

Connecting With Our Community

Over the past several years we have significantly increased our efforts to connect with our vibrant and diverse community in an effort to create relationships based on mutual respect and trust.  A review of our annual reports, strategic plan and our communication channels will all include our emphasis on these ongoing efforts.  This is a challenging endeavor that we will continue to passionately pursue.

Some examples of our ongoing outreach efforts include:

  • Cops and Clergy
  • Police Chief’s Community Advisory Committee
  • Coffee with a Cop
  • Lynnwood Community Academy
  • Cops and Kids Event
  • Police Youth Camp
  • Learn more about our other Community Engagement Efforts

We also recently hired a Public Affairs and Communications Manager, whose position is devoted to improving our communications and developing new ways to reach out to our community.  You may have noticed, for example, we have enhanced our presence on social media, where we now use video to regularly introduce you to our staff and take you inside with us during training and while we are at work.  I encourage you to follow us on those platforms and stay connected.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)

  • In 2015, the Governor signed into law the Doug Ostling Act requiring all Washington peace officers to receive eight hours of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training by the year 2021.  CIT is designed to equip officers to effectively work with people in crisis, specifically with community members who may be experiencing mental health issues or other forms of crisis. CIT training emphasizes de-escalation techniques and how to connect those in need with community resources.  Legislation also required peace officers to have at least two hours of refresher CIT training annually beginning in July of 2017 and we ensure our officers are up-to-date on this training.

  • Starting in 2015, the Lynnwood Police Department set a goal to have all police and custody officers go through a full 40-hour CIT course.  This far exceeds the State standard.
    •  As of today - all uniformed personnel have received this training, other than those who have been newly hired.

    • Our commitment to CIT and de-escalation training has continued.  In fact, the Lynnwood Police Department hosted a regional three-day training event for area police officers on CIT training with a focus on tactical de-escalation.  Tactical de-escalation is the utilization of these techniques in live scenarios where officers are confronted with a variety of crisis situations.  After each live scenario officers were individually de-briefed about what they perceived and what the instructors observed.  These discussions included where officers performed well and where they could have improved.

    • We continue to include de-escalation tactics into annual training during our police officer skills refresher courses.

    • We are fortunate to have one in-house Crisis Intervention Training Coordinator who also teaches CIT regionally.

Biased Based Training

Our department continues to train our officers on our Racial & Biased Based Profiling policy to include as recently as 2019.

Additionally, in late 2019, several members of the police department attended a workshop called "Leading with a Racial Equity Lens for Structural Transformation" as part of our commitment to being a Safe and Welcoming city.

Workplace Diversity

We have been intentional about examining and adjusting our hiring practices to increase the reach of our recruitment efforts and to examine our practices to identify barriers to employment.

  • In 2017 we eliminated the college requirement for police officer applicants.
  • In 2017 we adopted a policy allowing for religious head wear as part of the uniform standards for police officers.
  • Since 2017, 37% of our newly hired full time employees identify as a person of color. 

More Information

View our Annual Reports, Strategic Plan, and 2018 Force, Pursuits & Collisions Report by visiting: Reports & Statistics

Learn more about citywide efforts by visiting: Safe and Welcoming Lynnwood 

 

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Commander Sean Doty at sdoty@LynnwoodWA.gov or 425-670-5628