Certification Division of WSCJTC

The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) plays an important role in police accountability in Washington State through its decertification processes. The WSCJTC grants certifications to police, corrections, and limited authority officers who successfully complete training in their required academy. Under State law, WSCJTC can also deny, suspend, or revoke this certification, or require remedial training for officers who engage in certain misconduct. The WSCJTC Certification Division is responsible for certifying police and corrections officers, as well as investigating misconduct that may result in decertification.


Related: RCW 43.101.105 – Denial, suspension, or revocation of peace and corrections officer certification



Who can file a complaint?

Anyone can file a complaint with the WSCJTC alleging a police or corrections officer in Washington State engaged in misconduct. The WSCJTC will review all complaints, including anonymous complaints, and take appropriate action. Please be aware that the WSCJTC Certification Division has limited jurisdiction and only investigates complaints where the allegations, if true, may result in the WSCJTC revoking or suspending the certification of, or require remedial training for, an officer (see RCW 43.101.105). Complainants are immune from any civil action related to the filing or the contents of a complaint.


Related: RCW 43.101.145 – Written complaint to deny, suspend, or revoke peace or corrections officer certification—Immunity of complainant; WAC 139-17-010; WSCJTC Policy Anonymous Complaints


How do I file a complaint?

The best way to file a complaint is through our complaint web form here. If you have attachments to submit along with your complaint, please email the complaint to certificationcomplaints@cjtc.wa.gov. Make sure to provide as much information as possible to help our investigators, including officer name, employing agency, and date of incident. It is helpful for you to provide your name and contact information for the investigator to follow up with you.


What happens after I file a complaint?

The WSCJTC will communicate with complainants within two business days to confirm their complaint was received and to provide the case number. Possible next steps after a complaint is filed include:

  • If your complaint alleges conduct which may disqualify a peace officer or corrections officer from holding a certification in Washington State, the WSCJTC will investigate the complaint and notify the officer’s agency of its investigation.
  • If your complaint alleges conduct that may violate an agency’s policies but does not otherwise disqualify the officer from holding a certification in Washington State, the WSCJTC will forward the complaint to the officer’s agency for handling.
  • If your complaint does not allege conduct which may disqualify an officer from holding a certification in Washington State, or if the complaint does not involve an officer holding a certification in Washington State, the Commission may decline to open an investigation.
  • If your complaint alleges criminal conduct, the WSCJTC will immediately refer the matter to the agency with criminal jurisdiction. The WSCJTC may suspend its investigation until the criminal investigation is completed.


Related: WSCJTC Policy Complaint Handling


Agency Reports

The WSCJTC also receives reports directly from law enforcement agencies. Agencies are required to report the following to the WSCJTC within 15 days:

  1. When a certified officer separates from their agency for any reason, including serious misconduct that can result in decertification;
  2. When the agency first learns of a use of force by a certified officer, including canine bites, that caused serious injury or death;
  3. When the agency first learns that a certified officer has been charged with a crime; and
  4. When the agency supervisor data becomes aware of facts, circumstances, or allegations which may constitute misconduct under  RCW 43.101.105

The WSCJTC opens an investigation into any agency report that involves misconduct that may result in decertification under State law.


Related: RCW 43.101.135 – Separation of peace or corrections officer—Notification to commission—Investigation; WAC 139-06-020; see WAC 139-01-310 for definitions of serious injury

WSCJTC Investigations

The WSCJTC proceeds with an investigation in any case where the allegations, if true, may result in a police officer or corrections officer losing their certification. WSCJTC provides a written explanation for any decision not to proceed with a complete investigation. In addition to complaints from the public and reports from law enforcement agencies, the WSCJTC may self-initiate investigations (e.g., upon learning of misconduct through the media).

Investigation timelines vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case and investigator workload. Certain investigations may be prioritized above others based on the WSCJTC’s case prioritization policy. Generally, the WSCJTC strives to complete investigations within 120 days of case assignment, if possible.

Investigations are conducted in a fair, independent, objective, thorough, and timely manner. Investigative findings are based on the strength of the evidence and adherence to applicable laws as applied to the facts of the case.

When finished, the investigator submits the completed investigation for administrative review. The Chief Investigator, Certification Operations Manager, Division Manager, and Assistant Director all review and approve the investigation prior to making a final decision. At this point, the WSCJTC either declines to take action against the officer or issues a statement of charges informing the officer that the WSCJTC intends to revoke or suspend their certification. If the investigation originated from a complaint, the WSCJTC will communicate with the complainant to inform them of the decline or statement of charges.

Related: WAC 139-06-030; WAC 139-06-040; WSCJTC Policies Certification Investigations ; Conflict of Interest; Prioritization of Certification Investigations


Certification Hearings

If the officer requests a hearing, they may present witnesses or exhibits in support of their defense at the hearing. The officer is not required to put on a defense and may simply require the WSCJTC to prove its case. The standard of proof in actions before the WSCJTC is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred.

Any decertification must be reported to the national decertification index (NDI).

More information on hearings, including a list of all upcoming hearings, can be found on our Certification Hearings page. 


Related: RCW 43.101.380 - Hearings- Panel Membership- Standard of proof- Appeals- Judicial review; WAC Chapter 139-06



The WSCJTC has a database that contains information on all conduct investigated, including the names of officers and employing agencies, notices and accompanying information provided by law enforcement or correctional agencies, including the reasons for separation from the agency, decertification or suspension actions pursued, and final disposition of cases for at least 30 years after final disposition of each incident.

Related: RCW 43.101.400 – Confidentiality of records—Public database

For additional documents that are not available on the database link, a public records request can be submitted on this website. 

Commission Authority and Certification Rules

Question Answer

How does the WSCJTC receive notice of certification matters?

  • By a complaint, which can be filed by anyone here
  • By notification from the officer’s employing agency; or
  • The WSCJTC may self-initiate an investigation if it has cause to believe a certification violation occurred.

In what circumstances can a certification be denied or revoked?

A list of bases for mandatory and discretionary action on certifications can be found at RCW 43.101.105.

Where does the WSCJTC get its authority over certifications?

State Law governs the WSCJTC and can be found in RCW 43.101. In 2021, the state legislature adopted several police accountability laws that the WSCJTC must implement and abide by, including new standards for certification. The RCWs are further elaborated within the relevant Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

Agency Obligations and Reporting Requirements

Question Answer

What are agencies required to report to the WSCJTC for certification review?

Within 15 days, agencies must report the following events:

  • When a certified officer or reserve officer is separated from the agency for any reason;
  • When the agency first learns of a use of force by a certified officer, including canine bites, that caused serious injury or death;
  • When the agency first learns that a certified officer has been charged with a crime; and
  • For purposes of RCW 43.101.135 WSCJTC reporting, “initial disciplinary decision” means the point at which an agency supervisor or management representative becomes aware of facts, circumstances, or allegations which if true, may constitute a violation of RCW 43.101.105 .
Additional agency reporting requirements are found in WAC 139-06-020.

Complaints and Investigations

Question Answer

Can any person file a complaint of officer misconduct?

Per RCW 44.101.145 any individual may submit a complaint to the WSCJTC regarding an officer's certification. The WSCJTC has a web form available here for individuals to complete and submit. 

On what basis does the Commission issue a Statement of Charges?

Under RCW 43.101.155, if the Commission determines, based on its investigation, that there is cause to believe that an officer’s certification should be denied, suspended, or revoked, the Commission will prepare and serve the officer with a Statement of Charges.

Does the Commission investigate matters that are currently under review by an employing agency?

The Commission may conduct investigations regardless of the status of an agency-based investigation. In some circumstances, the Commission will wait to receive the completed agency file before beginning its investigation.

Can the Commission request information from an agency and proceed with certification actions when there is a pending agency internal investigation, appeal or union agreement?

Yes. Requests by the Commission for information from an agency cannot be delayed, limited, or precluded by any agreement or contract between the officer, the officer's union, and/or the entity responsible for the records or information. 

If an officer resigned or retired in lieu of termination, does an investigation need to be conducted and completed?

Yes. Even if the alleged misconduct was not discovered at the time of separation and would have more than likely resulted in suspension or discharge, the agency shall conduct and complete the investigation and provide all relevant information to the Commission as if the officer were still employed.

How long does it take for the Commission to review and respond to complaints?

Within a few days of the Commission receiving a complaint:

  • The complainant will receive confirmation of receipt and the name of a Commission point person.
  • The employing agency will be notified of the complaint received.

Who manages complaint reviews at the Commission and conducts investigations?

The Commission has a Certification Division that consists of experienced staff that complete reviews and investigations in a fair, independent, and thorough manner. The Certifications Divisions goal is to bring certification matters to resolution as expeditiously as possible.

Certification Decisions/ Hearing Panels

Question Answer

Are hearings open to the public?

Yes. Under RCW 43.101.380 hearings are open to the public, but the deliberations are not. 

How soon will a decision be made once the hearing concludes?

In most cases, the panel will notify the parties in writing of its decision within 90 days as required by state law.

Why was a particular officer decertified or not decertified?

Every circumstance is different. You can learn  about the reasons for decertification decisions by reviewing the information on  the certification database  here. There is also data on decertification trends available on the database.

Once a hearing has been requested, when will it take place?

The hearing will take place within 90 days of receiving the request for hearing, unless the hearing date is continued by the parties. Once the hearing is set, the WSCJTC shall transmit electronic and written notice of the hearing to the officer and provide public notice on the WSCJTC’s website.

Who is the final decision-maker on whether an officer keeps their certification?

A five member hearings panel will hear the case and make the Commission’s final administrative decision based on a majority of the vote.

The makeup of hearings panels can be found under RCW 43.101.380


Does the officer need to be present for the hearing?

Yes, whether held in person or remotely, the officer must attend the hearing. Failure to do so will result in a default order for revocation. 


How long are complaints, investigations, and certification information kept on file?

As of July 25, 2021, files relating to complaints, hearings, and investigations held or provided to the Commission are retained indefinitely.

Prior to July 25, 2021 pursuant to state law, many files and documents were destroyed one year after conclusion of the case.

Potential Hearings Outcomes

Question Answer

What happens when both the agency and the Commission impose a suspension or period of probation?

Any suspension or period of probation imposed by the Commission runs concurrently to any leave or discipline imposed by the employing agency for the same incident.
An agency may not terminate based solely on imposition of suspension or probation by the Commission. However, this does not prohibit an agency from terminating an officer based on the underlying acts or omissions for which the commission took such action.

When does the Commission impose suspensions, probation, or re-training?

WAC 139-06-100 details the guidelines for the determination of appropriate outcomes after a finding  of misconduct.

Can an officer lose their certification if their agency does not act because of a union appeal, the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, or a contractual agreement between the officer’s employer and the officer?

No action or failure to act by an employing agency, or decision resulting from an appeal of that action precludes action by the Commission to suspend or revoke. The employing agency may not enter into an agreement or contract with the officer or union for the officer to retain certification when there is misconduct.

The agency must timely report potential misconduct and cannot preclude disclosure of any relevant information including, but not limited to, a promise not to check the box on the notice of separation form that would indicate misconduct in exchange for resigning or retiring. The agency cannot agree to destroy or remove a personnel record of any peace officer or corrections officer.  Personnel records for any peace officer or corrections officer must be retained for the duration of the officer's employment and a minimum of 10 years thereafter. 


Revoked, Lapsed, Expired, and Surrendered Certifications

Question Answer

If a peace officer's certification has been revoked or suspended, can they become certified as a corrections officer? If they have been revoked or suspended as a corrections officer, can they become certified as a peace officer?

No. If a peace or corrections officer certification has been revoked, they cannot become certified in the other field unless they have successfully petitioned for reinstatement of certification. If a peace or corrections officer certification has been suspended, they cannot become certified in the other field during the period of suspension.

How can someone request reinstatement of certification?

For reinstatement of certification that has been revoked, please see RCW 43.101.115.