8.100 - De-Escalation

Effective Date: 04/15/21

De-escalation may take the form of scene management, team tactics, and/or individual engagement. Even when individual engagement is not feasible, de-escalation techniques including scene management and team tactics that utilize time, distance, and shielding, will still be used unless doing so would create undue risk of harm to any person due to the exigency/threat of a situation.

De-escalation tactics and techniques are actions used by officers, when safe and feasible without compromising law enforcement priorities, that seek to minimize the likelihood of the need to use force during an incident and increase the likelihood of voluntary compliance. See definition of de-escalation in 8.050.

The overall goal of this policy is to promote thoughtful resolutions to situations and to reduce the likelihood of harm to all persons involved. De-escalation is reviewed and evaluated under the totality of the circumstances present at the time of the incident.

1. When Safe, Feasible, and Without Compromising Law Enforcement Priorities, Officers Will Use De-Escalation Tactics in Order to Reduce the Need for Force

(a). Officers will conduct a threat assessment so as not to precipitate an unnecessary, unreasonable, or disproportionate use of force by placing themselves or others in undue jeopardy.

(b). Team approaches to de-escalation are encouraged and will consider officer training and skill level, number of officers, and whether any officer has successfully established rapport with the subject. Where officers use a team approach to de-escalation, each individual officer’s obligation to de-escalate will be satisfied as long as the officer’s actions complement the overall approach.

(c). Selection of de-escalation options will be guided by the totality of the circumstances with the goal of attaining voluntary compliance; considerations include:


Using communication intended to gain voluntary compliance, such as:

- Verbal persuasion

- Advisements and warnings (including TASER spark display to explain/warn prior to TASER application), given in a calm and explanatory manner.

Exception: Warnings given as a threat of force are not considered part of de-escalation. 

- Clear instructions

- Using verbal techniques, such as Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity (LEED) to calm an agitated subject and promote rational decision making

- Avoiding language that could escalate the incident. Taunts and insults are prohibited.

- Use of pattern interrupts, when appropriate

 - Consideration of whether any lack of compliance is a deliberate attempt to resist rather than a perceived physical or psychological inability to comply based on factors including, but not limited to:

- Medical conditions

- Mental impairment

- Developmental disability

- Physical limitation

- Language barrier

- Drug interaction

- Behavioral crisis

- Fear or anxiety


Attempt to slow down or stabilize the situation so that more time, options and resources are available for incident resolution.

- Scene stabilization assists in transitioning incidents from dynamic to static by limiting access to unsecured areas, limiting mobility and preventing the introduction of non- involved community members

- Avoiding or minimizing physical confrontation, unless necessary (for example, to protect someone, or stop dangerous behavior)

- Calling extra resources or officers to assist, such as CIT or Less-Lethal trained officers


Maximizing tactical advantage by increasing distance to allow for greater reaction time.


Utilizing cover and concealment for tactical advantage, such as:

- Placing barriers between an uncooperative subject and officers

- Using natural barriers in the immediate environment


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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