16.300 - Patrol Canines

Effective Date: 09/15/2019

The purpose of this policy is to regulate the use of Seattle Police canines. It sets out the duties and responsibilities of supervisors and canine handlers for use, approval, and deployment of Department canines. The use of canines requires adherence to procedures that control their use of force potential and that direct their specialized capabilities into legally acceptable crime detection, prevention, and control activities.

1. The Canine Unit Has Operational Control

The Canine Unit will maintain a unit manual.

The Canine Unit Manual is designed to ensure that the canine handler and canine are trained to the point at which the handler can demonstrate total control over the canine’s actions.

2. A Police Canine is Primarily a Locating Tool

Using its extraordinary olfactory skills, a canine may aid officers in locating a concealed subject.

When a canine is used to physically apprehend a suspect, it is an instrumentality of force and will only be used consistent with the Department policy.

See 8.300 - POL 1 - Use of Patrol Canines  for guidance.

3. Sergeants Supervising the Canine Unit Will Have Significant Knowledge About Police Canine Operations

4. All Department Canines Will be Deployed in a Manner That Complies With Applicable Law and Department Policy

Canine teams will be trained and will demonstrate proficiency such that the handler has control over the canine’s actions.

Canine teams must complete annual testing requirements.

16.300 POL - 1 Guidelines for the Use of Canines

Police Canines are a multifunctional asset that may be used in appropriate circumstances to assist officers in the search for criminal suspects; narcotics, explosives, or evidence.

The use of canines by the Seattle Police Department requires adherence to procedures that properly control their use of force potential and that channel their specialized capabilities into legally acceptable activities.

2. Non-Tactical Use of Canine

Canines may be deployed in non-aggressive work such as:

- Searching for evidence, narcotics, explosives, contraband; or

- Officers may use a trained detection canine in accordance with Department search and seizure policy and current search and seizure laws

3. A Canine Officer Will Be Available for Call-Out Under Conditions Specified by the Canine Unit

4. Department Personnel May Request the Use of the Canines

16.300 POL - 2 Canine Training

1. Canine Unit Will Train Regularly and Certify its Canine Teams as required by Washington Administrative Code 139-05-915

No handler is permitted to train the police canine in methods, techniques, or activities contrary to the accepted methods used by the Canine Unit. Strict handler control is the overriding goal of canine training such that a handler must be able to cause the police canine to follow the handler's orders.

- When the police canine is on lead and off lead;

- When the police canine is ordered to release a bite;

- When the police canine is ordered to bite; and

- For the police canine to stay and guard without a bite.

Handlers who are not capable of demonstrating such control will not be active in the field until the situation is rectified.

16.300 POL - 3 Assignment of Canines

1. Canine Teams Will be Assigned to the Special Operations Bureau and Used to Aid and Assist All Personnel of the Seattle Police Department

2. Canine Teams Will Function Primarily as Support Units

Canine officers should not be assigned to handle matters that will take them out of service for extended periods of time unless approved by the commander of the Canine Unit.

3. Canine Unit Officers are Viewed as a Single Officer Unit and Should Perform Under That Premise When Making Decisions Regarding Contact of Suspects

16.300 POL - 4 Requests for Public Demonstrations

1. All Canine Demonstrations Will be Approved by the Canine Unit Commander

Canine demonstrations, when authorized, will follow this Policy and Canine Unit Manual.

16.300 POL - 5 Canines in Public Areas

1. Canine Handlers Will Maintain Control Over their Canines in Public Areas at all Times

When not specifically deployed, all canines will be kept on leashes when in areas that allow access to the public

Exception: This does not apply to canine training, approved demonstrations or SPD secure facilities.

2. When the Canine Unit is Left Unattended in a Vehicle, The Vehicle Will Be Secured in Such a Manner as to Prevent Unauthorized Access to the Canine

16.300 PRO - 1 Accidental Canine Bite or Injury

In the event of an accidental canine bite or injury, the

Canine Handler

1. Requests medical aid for the injured subject,

2. Renders first aid within the handler’s training

3. Calls a supervisor to the scene,

4. Notifies the canine sergeant if not on scene,

The Responding Supervisor:

4. Takes photos of the injury,

5. Gathers witness information, if available,

Canine Handler

6. Prepares a Blue Team and routes through the Chain of Command

Canine Sergeant

7. Conducts an investigation of the incident to determine if a change in procedure or additional training is needed,

Canine Lieutenant

8. Reviews the incident and ensures the investigation is complete and there are no policy violations

Canine Captain

9. Reviews the incident with the Canine Unit sergeant and lieutenant

10. Forwards the report and Accidental Injury Memorandum and any findings to Special Operations’ Bureau Chief

Canine Handler

11. Closely observes the canine for ten days immediately following the incident.

If the canine officer observes the canine exhibiting any abnormal behavior during the ten-day period the canine officer will take the canine to the veterinarian for an examination.


12. All accidental bites will result in the canine being removed from active service until the chain of command and the canine trainer have reviewed the incident, remedial training has been conducted (if warranted), and the canine responded to training.



Adrian Diaz, Chief of Police
Address: 610 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98104-1900
Mailing Address: PO Box 34986, Seattle, WA, 98124-4986
Phone: (206) 625-5011
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