Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act (LETCSA)

Q: What is LETCSA?

A: After the passage of I-940 in 2018, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) was tasked with creating and adopting rules for new training requirements for officers, and rules for independent investigations into officer involved uses of deadly force. This became known as the Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act (LETCSA).

Q: Where can I view the Washington State Administrative Code (WAC) rules?

A: You can view WAC 139-11 on our webpage, here,  and on the Washington State Legislature’s webpage, here.  You can also view WAC 139-12 on our webpage, here, and on the Washington State Legislature’s webpage, here.

Q: Has the WSCJTC voted on the final rules for training requirements?

A: Yes. The WSCJTC Commissioners met on June 6, 2019 and voted to adopt the LETCSA rules concerning training requirements.

Q: Has the WSCJTC voted on the final rules for independent investigations into officer involved use of deadly force?

A: Yes. The WSCJTC Commissioners met on December 5, 2019 and voted to adopt the LETCSA rules concerning independent investigations of officer involved use of deadly force.

Q: Are the LETCSA rules now in effect?

A: Yes. WAC 139-11 concerning training rules took effect on December 7, 2019. WAC 139-12 concerning independent investigations of officer involved use of deadly force took effect on January 5, 2020.

Q: Do these rules apply to all active investigations of deadly force, or is it only for incidents that occur after a certain date?

A: WAC 139-12 applies to the investigation of all officer involved use of deadly force incidents that result in significant bodily harm or death, occurring after January 5, 2020.

Q: What is left to be completed regarding LETCSA?

A: The LETCSA staff are working on the following items:

  • Planning and preparation for the annual summits as described in WAC 139-11-050.
  • Creation and distribution of the annual report as described in WAC 139-11-050.
  • Creation, distribution and training for Investigation Best Practices as described in WAC 139-12-030 (4)(b).
  • Creation, distribution and training for the Conflict of Interest Form as described in WAC 139-12-030 4(c)(vii).
  • Creation of program for issuing IIT Qualified Lead Investigator Certificate as described in WAC 139-12-030 4(c)(v).
  • Establishing a plan to deliver training in homicide investigation, interviewing, etc. as described in WAC 139-12-030 4(c)(v).
  • Creation of Guidelines for Administering First Aid at the scene of an officer involved use of deadly force as described in WAC 139-11-020 (1)(t).
  • Development and implementation of the remaining 16-hours of de-escalation training as described in WAC 139-11-020 (2), including: The Historical Intersection of Race and Policing (Slavery to 1968), Alternatives to Booking, Implicit/Explicit Bias, Building Respectful Relationships with Other, and Understanding Local Cultures.

Q: Where can I find these documents, and when will they be available?

A: These documents and courses are currently in development. Once they are posted on the LETCSA webpage, the program specialist will send out an email notification of the posting, along with a link.

Q: WAC 139-12 states that “The independent investigation will follow accepted best practices for homicide investigations published and annually updated by the WSCJTC.” – can you send me a link to these best practices? 

A: The “Investigation Best Practices” are currently being crafted. We will send you a link as soon as they are available.

Q: How can I get updates about LETCSA?

A: To be added to the LETCSA distribution list, please fill out this form. You will receive all further updates including future meeting dates, and document postings.

 

De-Escalation Training

Q: What is de-escalation training?
A: De-Escalation training incorporates three critical principles of police tactics to give officers the best options to resolve dangerous situations – time, distance, and shielding.  When officers are far enough away from a person armed with a deadly object to avoid injury, can take cover from potential gunfire, and have time to verbally engage, they have the opportunity to diffuse and change the trajectory of a volatile situation.  Effective de-escalation requires not only effective patrol tactics, but also knowledge about mental illness, communication techniques, and human psychology.  

Q: Who has the authority to create and deliver this training? 
A: Since 1974 the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, comprised of 14 Governor appointed Commissioners, has had the authority to establish standards and provide training to peace officers and other criminal justice professionals.  The Commission provides 720 hours of mandated basic training to every police officer in the state, which includes de-escalation and crisis intervention training.  Now, the Commission is developing enhanced de-escalation and less lethal alternatives to train new officers and officers who have been in the field for any number of years.  

Q: Why are we talking about this? Why is it a problem?
A: Reducing deadly police encounters will save lives and improve public trust and confidence in the police. There is an ever increasing need for additional and specialized police training, skills, and tools in order to resolve complex situations and avoid the use of deadly force whenever possible. 

Q: What is different about the de-escalation training as a result of LETCSA? 
A: While de-escalation training is currently incorporated into the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) it will be enhanced. De-escalation training will also be delivered to experienced officers throughout the State of Washington and include de-escalation topics. Specifically, force options, mock scenarios, and various techniques to mitigate situations towards a more peaceful outcome.  

Q: How much of the BLEA curriculum is currently spent on anti-bias, de-escalation, and crisis intervention?  
A: Crisis Intervention Tactics and De-escalation are spread throughout the BLEA curriculum. Along with a minimum of 8 hours for mandated CIT training and 17 hours of Patrol Response to crisis training, additional aspects are incorporated into Mock Scenes, Criminal and Patrol Procedures, Defensive Tactics and Firearms training.    

Q: What does WAC 139-11 require of officers?
A: WAC 139-11 says that all peace officers and all lateral peace officers certified in Washington before December 7, 2019 must complete a minimum of 40 hours of de-escalation and mental health training every three years. The first cycle must be completed by January 1, 2028.

Q: Do reserve officers fall into the 40-hour requirement? 
A: No. A reserve officer is not considered a “general authority peace officer” who is commissioned to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington, as defined in RCW 10.93.020 (3)

Q: How did the number of hours (40) for the training get decided and by whom?
A: The 40-hour requirement is codified in WAC 139-11 which was created during the LETCSA rule-making process with the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and statutory stakeholders. 

Q: What are the courses that make up the 40 hours of de-escalation training, and what is the status of these classes?
A: Courses currently in development include The Historical Intersection of Race and Policing (Slavery to 1968), Alternatives to Booking, Implicit/Explicit Bias, Building Respectful Relationships with Others, and Understanding Local Cultures. These courses make up 16 hours. Once completed they will be made available on the CJTC’s website. The 24-Hour Patrol Tactics In-Service course is already available.

Q: Will our legislators fund the costs associated with de-escalation training such as instructor training, instructor time training officers, back fill and overtime for officers, and equipment for the regional trainings?
A: State initiatives cannot be funded by the legislature. There is some financial relief through the CJTC for training Patrol Tactics instructors, but there is no funding for back fill, overtime, or equipment costs for agencies. Formal requests have been made for financial relief for this unfunded mandate, but to date funding has not been made available.

 

Patrol Tactics

Q: What is the difference between the Patrol Tactics Instructor (PTI) course and the Patrol Tactics 24-Hour In-service course?
A: The PTI course is an 80-hour comprehensive patrol tactics course designed for safe and effective tactics typically required daily for law enforcements officers. Officers who take this course can then become certified to teach the Patrol Tactics 24-Hour In-Service course. The 24-hour course allows participants to demonstrate skills including threat recognition, high risk handcuffing, contact and cover, and care after fire. 

Q: How can I sign up for these Patrol Tactics courses?
A: To be registered for either Patrol Tactics course, please email scoaxum@cjtc.wa.gov. You can view information about PTI here and information about the 24-Hour In-Service course here.

Q: Who teaches the PTI and 24-Hour In-Service courses?
A: Sean Hendrickson is the Lead Patrol Tactics Program Instructor. The instructor for the 24-Hour In-Service course varies by location. All instructors have completed PTI training.

 

Patrol Tactics Instructor

Q: I previously saw that the 80-hour PTI course was going to cost $700, is that still the cost?

A: There is no fee for the 80-hour Patrol Tactics Instructor course, that has been removed from the CJTC website.

Q: Why is the Patrol Tactics Instructor course 80-hours in length?
A: The Patrol Tactics Instructor course is 80 hours because of the depth of content and the hands-on teaching style used to deliver the content.

Q: Why does the PTI course require re-certification every 2 years, and what is the cost to the agencies for re-certification training?

A: Instructor recertification training ensures that the instructors receive the most current curriculum and up to date materials every 2 years.  There is no cost for the Patrol Tactics Instructor recertification course.

Q: What kind of liability does the agency/instructor incur for becoming a CJTC Patrol Tactics Instructor? How are these instructors protected?

A: The answer to this question is addressed through a direct contract between officer/instructors or an MOU between the CJTC and the agency.  Please contact jwills@cjtc.wa.gov for further information.

 

Patrol Tactics 24-Hour In-Service

Q: What is the cost of the Patrol Tactics 24-Hour In-Service training?

A: There will be no charge for officers to attend the 24-Hour In-Service training.  

 

Independent Investigations

Q: Who makes up an Independent Investigative Team (IIT)?

A: An IIT is made up of qualified and certified peace officer investigators, crime scene and evidence specialists, and at least two nonlaw enforcement community representatives, operating completely independent of the involved agency (WAC 139-12-020).

Q: Where are the IITs located?

A: Here is a link to a map of the current IITs and the areas they cover.

 

Nonlaw Enforcement Community Representative

Q: How are the community representatives selected for the IIT?

A: Each IIT member chief and sheriff will solicit names and create a roster of individuals willing to be on the IIT. They will then appoint a minimum of two nonlaw enforcement community representatives to serve on the IIT.

Q: How can I become a nonlaw enforcement community representative?

A: Please contact your local police department or sheriff’s office and inquire about which IIT they use, and how they select their nonlaw enforcement community representatives.

Q: What is the role of the nonlaw enforcement community representatives?

A: The nonlaw enforcement community representatives is a vital link between the IIT, the community, and the investigation.  They participate in the vetting, interviewing, and selection of IIT investigators; review conflict of interest statements; are present at briefings for the involved agency’s chief or sheriff; have access to the completed investigation file; review all proposed media press releases; and review any notification of specialized equipment use [WAC 139-12-030(2)(b)].

 

Q: Do the nonlaw enforcement community representatives have to sign any sort of confidentiality agreement?

A: Yes, the nonlaw enforcement community representatives must sign a binding confidentiality agreement at the beginning of each police use of deadly force investigation that remains in effect until the prosecutor either declines to file charges or the criminal case is concluded.

 

Q: When should the nonlaw enforcement community members be notified of an incident?

A: The IIT Commander should notify the nonlaw enforcement community member at the first opportunity they are able to.  The first few hours of a critical incident are very hectic.  Assembling and deploying the independent investigation team takes priority.  It is recommended that the nonlaw enforcement community member be notified after the incident scene is stable.

Q: Should the nonlaw enforcement community member respond to the incident scene?

A: Whether the nonlaw enforcement community member responds to the scene is at the discretion of the IIT Commander.  Some things for the IIT commander to consider are:

  • Would it be helpful to have the nonlaw enforcement community member at the scene to address members of the impacted community?
  • If inclement weather, road conditions, or general scene safety places the nonlaw enforcement community member in jeopardy, then they should not respond to the scene.

Q: Is the nonlaw enforcement community member limited in any way if they do respond to the incident scene?

A: The nonlaw enforcement community member is a member of the IIT, and every team member has a function. WAC 139-12-030(2)(b)(a) defines the role of the nonlaw enforcement community member.  For scene preservation, there is no expectation that they will be allowed inside the scene perimeter tape while the scene is being processed.

Q: What is the nonlaw enforcement community representative’s authority in selecting IIT members?

A: WAC 139-12 states that the nonlaw enforcement community representative will “participate directly in the vetting, interviewing, and/or selection of IIT investigators”.  IIT Commanders are encouraged to include the nonlaw enforcement community representative in the process (oral board, application review, etc.) currently being used by the IIT to onboard new members.  At the conclusion of the panel the IIT commander shall consider the recommendations of the panel and select those best suited for the needs of the IIT.

Q: What is the nonlaw enforcement community representative’s authority regarding press releases?

A: A copy of all press releases and communication to the media should be provided to the nonlaw enforcement community representatives prior to release, so that they can provide an independent review of the content of the press release.

 

IIT Law Enforcement Members

Q: How are the IIT law enforcement members selected?

A: All law enforcement members are required to be recommended by their chief or sheriff, submit an application packet to the IIT Commander for review, then participate in an interview process by a panel that includes the nonlaw enforcement community representatives, and ultimately be accepted as a member of the IIT.

Q: Are current IIT investigators required to sit in front of a panel to be approved to be on the team, or will this be a review of their application/background?

A: No. WAC 139-12-030(2)(b) states, “Existing teams will have until January 2021 to provide necessary information about the qualifications of current IIT investigators to the nonlaw enforcement community representatives for review.”

Q: What training is required by the end of 2020 to be certified as a lead investigator?

A: By December 2020, to be considered as an IIT Lead Investigator, the investigator must be able to prove they attended:

  • Basic Homicide Investigation Training
  • Interviewing and Interrogation Training
  • The 3-day (24-hour) Patrol Tactics class offered through the WA State CJTC.

Exception - IIT Members with two years or more of relevant, full-time criminal investigative work experience may substitute their work experience for the required Basic Homicide Investigation and Interview training.  Patrol Tactics is still required.

Q: Do classes offered by “outside vendors” meet the IIT Qualified Lead Investigator training requirements?

A: Classes offered by outside training vendors meet the LETCSA IIT basic and advanced training requirement.  These classes do not have to be offered through the CJTC to be approved.

 

Independent Investigation Process

Q: Once the IIT takes control of the scene, is it acceptable to use the involved agency's uniformed patrol officers and marked cars for perimeter security and to maintain the crime scene log?
A: It is acceptable for the involved agency to provide uniformed officers in marked vehicles for perimeter security.  It would not be appropriate for any member of the involved agency to maintain a crime scene log, handle any evidentiary items, or be in a position where an observer would think their presence would compromise the independent investigation.

Q: What does the WAC say about media press releases?

A: WAC 139-12-030(2) states that, “The IIT commander, public information officer, or another IIT representative will provide public updates about the investigation at a minimum of once per week, even if there is no new progress to report.” It is recommended that:

  • The IIT should be responsible for the release of all information related to the deadly force incident investigation, and
  • The involved agency should be responsible for release of information related to the involved officer, and the administrative investigation process.

Q: If the person impacted by the deadly force is not incapacitated, significantly injured, or dead, is the IIT still required to have a family liaison?

A: No. If a subject is not significantly harmed or otherwise not incapacitated, then the rules are not required, and a family liaison is not required.  The IIT rules found in WAC 139-12 go into effect when the subject sustains either significant bodily injury or death. When someone is not significantly injured, the assumption is that they are able to notify their own family. 

Q: Is someone developing a template for what a regional IIT agreement should be, so we have statewide continuity for how the investigations are to be addressed and teams are selected?

A: CJTC Staff and a subject matter expert workgroup is developing best practices documents to address forming an IIT, and how independent investigations are to be conducted.  When those documents are completed, they can be accessed on the CJTC LETCSA webpage.

Q: If the involved agency puts out a press release, does that count as an IIT press release?

A: No.  To demonstrate the involved agency is not involved in the investigation, the IIT should:

  • Make an initial press release, stating they are on scene, and have taken over control of the scene from the involved agency.
  • At least once a week, the IIT should inform the public that they are working on the case, completing any remaining tasks, and preparing to deliver a completed investigation to the venue prosecutor.

Q: Can the IIT use a witness officer’s compelled statement?

A: Yes, the IIT may use the compelled statement from a witness officer(s) to further the investigation.  Likewise, the elected prosecutor may also use the compelled statement from the witness officer(s) when making a charging decision. The involved officer(s) have “no standing” when it comes to a Witness officer’s statement, even if the statement is compelled.  The compelled statement from the involved officer(s) is off-limits to the IIT.

Q: Is a Public Safety Statement a compelled statement?

A: If the Public Safety Statement contains wording similar to, “I am ordering / directing /compelling you to…” or “You are being ordered / directed / compelled to answer the following public safety questions…” then yes, the Public Safety Statement is a compelled statement and cannot be used by the IIT.  Conversely, if the Public Safety Statement starts with, “You are asked to voluntarily answer the following Public Safety questions…” then the information is not compelled, and it can be used by the IIT to further the investigation.

Q: If a subject is wounded, and criminal charges are to be filed against them, how does the involved agency do that without the involved officer’s statement?

A: The involved officer’s compelled statement cannot be used by the IIT during the investigation, or by the prosecutor when making a charging decision against the involved officer. However, when bringing charges against the subject of the officer involved use of deadly force, the agency and the prosecutor may use any and all evidence available, including an officer’s compelled statement.

If a crime occurred prior to the deadly force incident, a decision should be made whether the IIT, the involved agency, or another outside agency will investigate the preceding crime.  The IIT or another outside agency may investigate the officer involved use of deadly force incident, while the jurisdictional agency where the crime took place would investigate the preceding crime.

Q: When dealing with criminal and administrative investigations, does one IIT handle the administrative investigation with compelled statements, while another IIT handles the criminal investigation with a firewall separating the two investigations?

A: The Criminal Investigation will be conducted by the IIT or another outside agency that will act as a factfinder so the prosecutor can determine whether the use of force was legally justified.  The prosecutor will use the objective “good faith” standard as the optic to review the case and make a charging decision.  No information from the administrative investigation may be shared with the criminal investigation.

The Administrative Investigation should be conducted by the involved agency or another outside agency to determine if the use of force was within department policy.  Statements may be compelled, and the employee is not entitled to 5th Amendment protection.  The involved officer’s statement is covered by Garrity, and the information obtained from the administrative or internal investigation must be walled off from the criminal investigation to avoid contamination and possible loss of criminal charges.

 

 

 

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