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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
The WSCJTC also receives reports directly from law enforcement agencies. Agencies are required to report the following to the WSCJTC within 15 days:
- When a certified officer separates from their agency for any reason, including serious misconduct that can result in decertification;
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.