The King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) recently released a new report that suggested the process used by the King County Sheriff's Office to review complaints made by members of the public against officers for alleged unnecessary or excessive use of force needs improvement.

The report—titled Use of Force Complaint Processing in the King County Sheriff’s Office—cited the need for more training for "everyone involved with investigating and reviewing use of force incidents and complaints." The report said that due to the complexities involved with investigating use of force and complaints about force, making routine training on the law, KCSO policy, and the processes involved all the more important."

The report also indicated that the UOF complaint review process itself can be part of that training, saying that conducting a review provides "an opportunity for insights and discussions about tactics, choice of weapons, field communications, de-escalation, courtesy and fairness. These systems provide feedback that can lead to changes at the individual level or broader modifications in policies, procedures, equipment, or training.

Among the 28 recommendations the body suggested that the Sheriff's Office consider were:

  • Designate a commander outside of the Internal Investigations Unit (IIU) responsible for reviewing use of force reports for quality assurance and for consideration as to whether any policy or training issues are identified that should be referred to IIU or elsewhere.
  • Require more detailed documentation of use of force in arrest reports, as well as enforcement by supervisors to comply with thoroughness by returning the document and requiring more information.
  • Require that the IIU conduct in-person interviews for use of force complaint investigations. If an interview wasn’t conducted, include in the file an explicit statement of the reasons why not.
  • Provide community education about uses of force and solicit public input regarding policy and practices for uses of force to ensure that they comport with community values.
  • Provide training on interview skills, the appropriate standard of proof to use in misconduct investigations, and how to make credibility determinations when necessary.

The full report can be read here.

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