Police Reform

Teamwork, Integrity, and Professionalism...

During these challenging times, I want to push forward to enhance our partnerships with our community as we address criminal and social justice reform, which includes defunding the police, racism, homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse with the challenges of limited resources.  

As Sheriff, I am committed to transparency and accountability about how this agency conducts policing in Kitsap County.  We have designed this page specifically so that you can find accurate information about the Sheriff’s Office policies, statistics, reports, frequently asked questions, and professional standards reports all in one location.

This is essential to provide our community with detailed information about our work and how it’s accomplished. The entire Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Policy Manual is available under Organizational Information. The Sheriff’s policies most frequently requested and researched are listed alphabetically under Policy.

  New Police Reform Laws

New Tactical Rules - House Bill 1054
An ACT Relating to establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers; amending RCW 10.31.040; adding a new chapter to Title 10 RCW; repealing RCW 43.101.226; and providing an expiration date.
Use of Force Changes - House Bill 1310
An ACT Relating to permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers; amending RCW 43.101.450; adding a new section to chapter 43.101 RCW; adding a new chapter to Title 10 RCW; creating new sections; and repealing RCW 10.31.050. 
Duty to Intervene and Report - Senate Bill 5066

An ACT Relating to a peace officer's duty to intervene; adding a new section to chapter 10.93 RCW; and adding a new section to chapter 43.101 RCW.

  Policies Involving Police Reform

Use of Force - Policy 300

This policy provides guidelines on the reasonable use of force. While there is no way to specify the exact amount or type of reasonable force to be applied in any situation, every member of this department is expected to use these guidelines to make such decisions in a professional, impartial and reasonable manner. This policy does not apply to the KCSO Corrections Division. Corrections Officers should consult the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Custody Manual use of force policy.

Bias-Based Policing - Policy 402

This policy provides guidance to office members that affirms the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office 's commitment to policing that is fair and objective.

Conducted Energy Device - Policy 308

This policy provides guidelines for the issuance and use of Electro-muscular-disruption technology-device (EMDT)s.

Control Devices and Techniques - Policy 307

In order to control subjects who are violent or who demonstrate the intent to be violent, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office authorizes deputies to use control devices in accordance with the guidelines in this policy and the Use of Force Policy.

Crisis Intervention Incidents - Policy 463

This policy provides guidelines for interacting with those who may be experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis. Interaction with such individuals has the potential for miscommunication and violence.

Vehicle Pursuits - Policy 313
This policy provides guidelines for vehicle pursuits in order to protect the safety of involved deputies, the public and fleeing suspects (RCW 43.101.226(3)). 

  Frequently Asked Questions

Use of Force Policy

Does the public have access to the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Policy Manual?

Yes. The 572-page manual is a public document available to anyone who wishes to review it. You can view the online version here.

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

No. "Chokeholds" and "strangleholds" are, by their very definition, designed to restrict airflow.

Up until recently, trained and certified sheriff's deputies were authorized to utilize a carotid control hold. This is substantially different from a chokehold in that it does not restrict airflow. Deputies were initially trained during an eight-hour certification course in this technique, also known as the Vascular Neck Restraint (VNR).  A follow-on recertification occurred annually with another four-hour training class in which they must pass a written exam and a physical skills test.

Effective June 12, 2020 the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office has temporarily restricted the use of this technique and modified its Use of Force Policy to reflect that the VNR technique should not be used except when the deputy reasonably believes that a suspect poses an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death to the deputy or others.  This is outlined in Chapter 300 of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Policy Manual, under the section entitled Neck Restraint Holds (Carotid Control Holds / VNR).  The sheriff's office currently is reviewing the use of this technique.

Does your Use of Force Policy require de-escalation?

Our policy provides guidance to our officers to utilize de-escalation tactics when practical. The Policy section of the Use of Force Policy provides the following language:

The use of force by law enforcement personnel is a matter of critical concern, both to the public and to the law enforcement community. Deputies are involved on a daily basis in numerous and varied interactions and, when warranted, may use reasonable force in carrying out their duties.
Deputies must have an understanding of, and true appreciation for, their authority and limitations. This is especially true with respect to overcoming resistance while engaged in the performance of law enforcement duties.
The sheriff's office recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. Vesting deputies with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests.

The Office also provide instruction to deputies within Chapter 463, Crisis Intervention Incidents Policy.  A section entitled De-Escalation states:

Deputies should consider that taking no action or passively monitoring the situation may be the most reasonable response to a mental health crisis.
Once it is determined that a situation is a mental health crisis and immediate safety concerns have been addressed, responding members should be aware of the following considerations and should generally:

• Evaluate safety conditions.

• Introduce themselves and attempt to obtain the person's name.

• Be patient, polite, calm, courteous and avoid overreacting.

• Speak and move slowly and in a non-threatening manner.

• Moderate the level of direct eye contact.

• Remove distractions or disruptive people from the area.

• Demonstrate active listening skills (e.g., summarize the person's verbal communication).

• Provide for sufficient avenues of retreat or escape should the situation become volatile.

Responding deputies generally should not:

• Use stances or tactics that can be interpreted as aggressive.

• Allow others to interrupt or engage the person.

• Corner a person who is not believed to be armed, violent or suicidal.

• Argue, speak with a raised voice or use threats to obtain compliance.

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

The section entitled Deadly Force Applications addresses verbal warnings with respect to all deadly force encounters – not just shootings:

A deputy may use deadly force to stop a fleeing subject when the deputy 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 deputy 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.

Verbal warnings also are recommended, where feasible, prior to the use of a Kinetic Energy Projectile (commonly called a 'rubber bullet round' or 'foam baton round') (Policy 307) or a Conducted Energy Device (commonly referred to as a Taser) (Policy 308).

Does your Use of Force Policy require officers to exhaust all alternatives before shooting?
Our policy states the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury. The sheriff's entire use of force policy is based on the concept that force, when applied by a deputy, must be reasonable and necessary.  Discharge of a weapon would occur only if a deputy concludes there is no alternative and it is reasonable and necessary.  How does a deputy determine what is reasonable?  Our policy lists several different factors for deputies to consider when determining if force is necessary.  

All these factors are detailed in the section entitled Factors Used to Determine the Reasonableness of Force and are used by deputies to determine if force is necessary and reasonable.

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

Yes. The section entitled Duty to Intercede, states:

Any deputy present and observing another deputy 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. A deputy who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.

The sheriff's office Standards of Conduct (Policy 339) specifies that a conduct violation occurs when a sheriff's office employee engages in "unreasonable and unwarranted force to a person encountered or a person under arrest" and when "exceeding lawful peace officer powers by unreasonable, unlawful or excessive conduct."

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

In most cases, yes. The policy does not outright ban shooting at vehicles. We have a detailed policy regarding shooting both at or from a moving vehicle.  This section, Shooting At or From Moving Vehicles, states:

Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Deputies should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants.  A deputy 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 deputy or others.  Deputies should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.

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

The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Use of Force Policy achieves that same outcome without using the term "use of force continuum."  Our policy specifically states the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury. Our entire use of force policy is based on the concept that force, when applied by an officer, must be reasonable and necessary. 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 federal case law and state law that deputies shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the deputy at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. This is in line with current best practices in the policing profession.

Does your policy require comprehensive reporting?

Yes, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is a state accredited agency and employs several rigorous policies designed to meet those standards and establish a system of oversight and accountability.

Incidents which involve a use of force are required to be reported to supervisors and properly documented in the appropriate reports. These reports are reviewed by immediate supervisors and command staff to ensure the use of force was reasonable to affect the lawful intended purpose and that they adhered to the established policies and procedures of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office.  In some instances, use of force reviews may be referred to the Office of Professional Standards for further investigation.

Critical Incidents such as those involving the use of deadly force or an in-custody death are referred to an outside, non-involved agency or task force to conduct an independent investigation into the incident.

The Office of Professional Standards also tracks use of force incidents and provides a yearly analysis to the sheriff to:

• Identify and trends in the use of force by members,
• Identify training needs,
• Identify equipment needs,
• Identify policy revisions.

For additional information please refer to the policy sections concerning:

• Report Writing
• Use of force
• Reporting the Use of Force
• Notification to Supervisors
• Medical Considerations
• Supervisory Responsibility
• Shift Sergeant Responsibility
• Training
• Use of Force Analysis

The Kitsap Sheriff's Office also participates in the National Use-of-Force Data Collection Program through the FBI. Participation in this program is voluntary with only approximately 40% of the law enforcement agencies in the U. S. voluntarily providing data.

How do I file a complaint against a sheriff's deputy for excessive use of force?

The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office takes seriously all complaints regarding the service provided by the Office and the conduct of its personnel. The sheriff's office will accept all complaints of misconduct. The public may make complaints in any form, including in person, in writing, by e-mail, or by telephone.

Citizens may contact any sheriff's employee to file a complaint.  You can reach the Sheriff's Office at 360.337.7002 or 360.337.7101. An employee becoming aware that a complaint is being made will immediately notify a supervisor.  If a supervisor is unavailable, the receiving employee will obtain contact information for a supervisor to contact the complainant.

Citizens can submit complaints in writing. Complaint forms are maintained in clearly visible locations in public areas of sheriff's office facilities and are also accessible through the sheriff's office website. Go to the Office of Professional Standards to file a complaint online. You can also submit a complaint by sending email to kcso-ops@co.kitsap.wa.us.

Anonymous and third-party complaints will be accepted and investigated to the extent that enough information is provided to initiate a complaint investigation. For additional information on personnel complaints, please read policy Chapter 1020 entitled Personnel Complaints.

Body Cameras
Do Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies wear body cameras (BWCs)?

No. Sheriff's deputies are not equipped with body worn cameras. Currently, our agency does not deploy body cameras and as such, we do not have a specific policy as it relates to this piece of equipment. BWCs have been a subject of considerable discussion by the sheriff and the executive staff over the past several years.  It is expected that, considering recent events, the sheriff will revisit the BWCs issue for feasibility and a possible recommendation for a system purchase.

If recommended, this will be a significant expenditure of funds when the county's budget is forecast to decrease substantially as a result of the COVID-19 emergency and the loss of generated revenue.

Accreditation
Is the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office a State Accredited Agency?

Yes. The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is a state accredited law enforcement agency. What does this mean?  Being an accredited law enforcement agency 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 were awarded accreditation status in November 2018 and are up for re-accreditation every four years. We will submit for re-accreditation in 2022.  As part of the process we must demonstrate that we meet nearly 150 different standards to show we are following best practices and industry standards, which are confirmed by outside agency assessors. We are one of 56 agencies designated as accredited in the State of Washington.

We encourage you to learn more about the accreditation process by reviewing the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs website here.

If you have a question or are looking for something, not on this page, please let us know.  You can submit comments and questions here.

 Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Policy Manual


Follow the link above to view the manual in its entirety.