Police Accountability & Transparency

Incident & Investigation Reports

OPD Chief and staff at community event

Message to the community

The Olympia Police Department is committed to ensuring accountability and transparency in our policies, practices, and programs.

This page is a resource for our community to learn more about the Department's work in community engagement and community policing – both of which are at the core of our mission. This page also provides information about hiring and training, professional standards, and use of force data. We’ve made our Use of Force policies and Department budget easily accessible here, and provided information in response to to frequently asked questions.

We hope you see that we are continuing to build an organization that delivers 21st Century police services. We are committed to ensuring that OPD staff are professional, highly trained, and versed in crisis intervention, procedural justice, de-escalation and fair and impartial policing. We are focused on providing the best policing service for our community that we can, and to ensuring that our actions are consistent with the values of our community.

-Interim Chief Aaron Jelcick

#8CANTWAIT icons

8 Can't Wait

#8CANTWAIT is a national campaign to bring immediate change to police departments around the country. Below are the eight suggested policies and how the Olympia Police Department handles each.

Ban chokeholds & strangleholds

  • OPD does not authorize use of chokeholds including carotid restraint holds and/or Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint holds unless in defense of life.
  • OPD does not train in the use of chokeholds and strangleholds.

Require de-escalation

  • OPD includes de-escalation in use of force training and applies de-escalation principles (such as time, distance, communication) in use of force situations.
  • OPD's training program prioritizes procedural justice, de-escalation, reality-based scenarios, implicit bias, and fair and impartial policing.

Require warning before shooting

  • OPD policy requires a warning be given prior to using deadly force when feasible. This is re-enforced in re-training and in training new officers.

Exhaust all alternatives before shooting

  • OPD policy states that deadly force may be used only when necessary to protect human life from the threat of death or serious physical harm.
  • The policy prioritizes protection of life over apprehension of criminals or protection of property. Police officers have a responsibility to protect life.These concepts are re-enforced in training.

Duty to intervene

  • OPD policy requires officers to intervene and report improper arrests or excessive use of force without delay. This is reinforced in training with new and existing employees.

Ban shooting at moving vehicles

  • OPD does not authorize shooting at or from moving vehicles unless taking such action is in the defense of life.

Require use of force continuum

  • OPD policy requires a progressive application of force, and the force that is responsive to the subject’s actions. Officers are trained to only use the amount of force necessary, and to only use force until a threat is no longer present.

Require comprehensive reporting

  • OPD requires comprehensive use of force reporting and review by a supervisor anytime force is used. In addition to the use of force report, involved officers must each complete a supplemental report to the incident.

Frequently asked questions


No. The Department forbids the use of chokeholds by Police Department employees. See our 8 Can't Wait section above for more details.

Yes. De-escalation includes any tactics used to avoid force, to gain voluntary compliance and reduce or eliminate the need to use physical force. De-escalation is at the core of all the Department’s use-of-force training. See our 8 Can't Wait section above for more details.

Following an officer involved shooting in 2015, an Ad Hoc committee was formed to involve citizens in conversations about how we could better serve our community, with a focus on reaching and engaging with underrepresented community groups Community forums invited Olympia community members, especially those from under-represented groups, to learn what they value in their police department.

When the Ad Hoc committee completed its work, they emphasized that effective policing requires respect, trust, listening, communication, and building relationships. They also prioritized an improved cultural awareness, and acknowledgement of implicit bias and institutional injustice.

In response to the committee’s findings in 2015, OPD has made updates to policy and added trainings including:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Transgender 101 training
  • Fair and Impartial Policing/implicit bias training
  • De-escalation of persons in crisis
  • Procedural Justice
  • Crisis Intervention Training
  • Increased reality-based scenarios in training, with an emphasis on de-escalation
  • LGBTQ policies
  • ADA Polices

The committee also noted that community’s understanding and perceptions of the internal workings of the police department were limited. In response to this finding, OPD has created a Citizens Academy program for community members to gain hands-on experience and an inside look at how OPD operates.

The Olympia Police Department created new opportunities for our officers to engage with our community and build trust by expanding our walking patrol unit and adding two neighborhood police officers. These officers attend neighborhood and community group meetings to listen, engage, educate, and learn. Their schedules allow them to focus on long-term projects through to completion. They also participate in our social media presence on Nextdoor, Instagram, and Twitter.

Additionally, OPD created our Crisis Response Unit and Familiar Faces programs. Both programs work in partnership with officers to provide resources for people in crisis and with chronic mental health, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. Learn more about these programs on our Crisis Response & Peer Navigators page.

The Olympia Police Department uses our community outreach, regional job fairs, web-based advertising and social media to announce and recruit for job openings to ensure our department is representative of our community.

OPD hires police officers under Civil Service rules. This means that a Civil Service Commission, made up of citizens appointed by the City Manager, ensures that our hiring process is fair and based on criteria relevant to the job. The Commission approves all testing and processes used for hiring police officers.

The hiring process is designed to ensure our employees represent the values of the City of Olympia. Candidates must successfully complete each step of the process before progressing onto the next. The steps involved include:

  • Written test
  • Physical ability test
  • Suitability assessment
  • Oral review board (interview by a panel of community members and law enforcement officers)
  • Background investigation of applicant
  • Interview with Police Chief
  • Conditional offer of employment
  • Psychological evaluation by a psychologist
  • Medical examination
  • Polygraph Interview
  • Final employment offer

After successfully completing these steps, candidates must graduate from the academy and pass on-site field training. In addition, there is a probationary period from 12 to 18 months to ensure they demonstrate the character, integrity and proficiency expected of our full-time employees.

If you’re interested in joining our team you can apply at https://www.publicsafetytesting.com/departments/olympia-police-department/police-officer-95

Police Officer candidates statewide are required to attend a 720-hour Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) where they receive certification as a law enforcement officer from the State of Washington.  For a complete list of the course and classes they must successfully complete, see the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy website. After BLEA, officers return to the Police Department and go through a 10-week field training program in which an experienced training officer teaches the recruit the local municipal laws, the department’s policies and procedures and helps the new recruit gather the valuable experience of hands-on work.

Corrections Officer candidates are required to attend a 160-hour Corrections Officer Academy (COA) where they receive certification as a corrections officer from the State of Washington. Additional information can be found on the Corrections Officer Academy website. After COA, corrections officers return to the Police Department and complete a 16-week on-site training program to learn jail operations, care and custody of offenders, the elements of restorative justice, how to support community re-entry, laws related to corrections, and the importance of the safety and security of inmates, the community, and the facility.

By state law, police officers are required to participate in at least 24 hours of on-going training each year to maintain their state certifications. Our OPD training program exceeds this requirement and we design our courses to be contemporary in the law enforcement profession. One day a month officers receive refresher and advanced training in a variety of topics. The training is delivered by community groups, professional trainers, management and police staff. Amongst many topics, our in-service training programs include:

  • Use of Force and De-escalation
  • Scenario/reality based training
  • Implicit and Explicit Bias
  • Procedural Justice
  • First Aid
  • Fair and Impartial Policing
  • CIT – Crisis Intervention Training (working with those suffering from a mental illness)
  • Crowd Control
  • Blue Courage

When a complaint is received it is sorted into one of two categories: Allegation of Serious Misconduct or Service Level complaint.  Serious Misconduct complaints are allegations such as excessive force or civil rights violation.  Service Level complaints are allegations such as rudeness or poor work performance.  Generally, Serious Misconduct complaints are assigned to a manager to investigate.  Service Level complaints are usually assigned to first line supervisors to investigate and address.

An Internal Investigation is similar to a criminal investigation.  The investigator may contact witnesses, interview parties involved, and review audio or video evidence if available.  At the conclusion of the investigation a report is written and a finding will be reached in accordance with the Department Policies.  The standard of proof for all internal investigations is by “preponderance of the evidence.”  This is a lower standard than that of a criminal case which requires “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

The investigative work and findings are reviewed by the Office of Professional Standards Lieutenant and Chief of Police.  Serious Misconduct Investigations are also reviewed by a third party attorney office.  If a complaint is sustained by the investigation it is referred to the employee’s supervisor and manager for corrective action.

If you would like to learn more, about our Internal Affairs process and  policies they are published for the community here in General Order #52.

If you would like to provide feedback or file a formal complaint, forms are available on our Comment on Service page.

The Olympia Police Department recently implemented two highly successful programs: Familiar Faces and the Crisis Response Unit. These programs are funded through a combination of grants and the police department’s budget and are devoted to serving the most vulnerable and marginalized in our community.

The Crisis Response Unit (CRU) provides free and voluntary crisis response assistance seven days a week all over Olympia. The team is made up of trained behavior health specialists who are not officers and do not wear police uniforms. Our CRU Team has been up and running for approximately a year and a half, and the team’s four core principles are street outreach, harm reduction, trauma informed and culturally competent care. The CRU team increases OPD’s ability to provide outreach services to those in crisis when a uniformed police response is not needed, or may even escalate a person in crisis.

The Familiar Faces Program is a partnership with Catholic Community Services and uses peer navigators to help identify and assist individuals with complex health and behavior problems who have frequent and persistent contact with OPD Walking Patrol. Different from traditional service providers, peer navigators offer a shared life experience and non-judgmental unconditional support to those they are assisting.

Both Familiar Faces and the Crisis Response Unit are designed to provide a non-enforcement response to police calls in the City of Olympia. The Olympia Police Department believes co-response provides for community safety while allowing specifically trained individuals to assist community members in crisis.

While the Olympia Police Department respects both our residents’ First Amendment right to free speech and to peacefully assemble and our residents’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, we are increasingly concerned about these two constitutional rights colliding with unintended consequences for our community.

The Olympia Police Department does not align itself with any one group lawfully exercising their constitutional rights. OPD does not and will not seek the help of any militia, any armed civilians, or any vigilante groups. The Department is adequately staffed and prepared to ensure a safe environment exists for people who wish to engage in peaceful demonstrations and does not need the assistance of armed citizens to keep our community safe.

We ask the community to please refrain from actions and activities that escalate tensions at such a sensitive time in our community.

The Olympia Police Department does not tolerate racism and crimes targeting individuals or groups based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We are committed to equity, inclusion, fairness and equal justice under the law.

Have an idea for the FAQ? Email us at olympiapolice@ci.olympia.wa.us

Professional Standards & Use of Force Data

The Olympia Police Department has a strict code of conduct for all employees and holds them to the highest standards of conduct. OPD closely monitors all uses of force to ensure they are reasonable, lawful, and in line with our community’s values. OPD requires comprehensive use of force reporting and review by a supervisor anytime force is used.

In addition to the use of force report, involved officers must each complete a supplemental report to document the incident. In order to remain transparent, OPD produces an annual Professional Standards Report. OPD's Professional Standards Report contains internal investigation details, accountability data, and use of force information from the previous year.

Community engagement & community policing

Community engagement and community policing is central to our Department’s mission in building community trust. It is important for police and community members to work together to improve the quality of life for all those who work, play, and live in Olympia.

Our goal is to provide opportunities for community members and groups to engage with our employees, build relationships, and interact with OPD in non-enforcement ways.

Community engagement

In 2019, OPD invested 1,394 hours with approximately 300 community groups. Some of the specific ways we engage are:

  • Attend and host neighborhood and service organization meetings.
  • Meet with underrepresented community groups to address their individual needs.
  • Partner with schools and local safety education groups to provide resources for students and families.
  • Annual Citizen’s Academy
  • Police and community partnership through our volunteer program.
  • Partner with local businesses provide safety education and address concerns.
  • Utilize various social media platforms to share public safety information and engage with the community.

Number of events OPD attended (by group)

If you’re interested in us attending one of your events, please contact us at  olympiapolice@ci.olympia.wa.us

Community policing

Community policing is an essential partnership between the Olympia Police Department (OPD), and our community members to solve problems, address issues in individual neighborhoods and in the City as a whole, and provide service in line with our community’s values. OPD recognizes that enforcement is not the solution to every problem. Officers assigned full-time to community policing units proactively address concerns that lead to crime, or the fear of crime. Our Community Policing Division includes our Traffic programs and education, Neighborhood Police, School Resource, and Walking Patrol Officers.

OPD builds relationships through partnerships with block watch groups, neighborhood associations, social service groups, schools, youth Police Explorers program, our Volunteers in Police Service program, property managers and businesses. OPD creates opportunities for community involvement by providing crime prevention education and safety tips, participating in community events, and engaging with community members one-on-one.

Olympia Police Department budget

The Olympia Police Department is committed to transparent and responsible management of budget in line with our community’s values and expectations.

OPD Department Budget - Total

The Police budget is broken down into two primary areas - Administrative Services and Operations.

Administrative Services Budget

Administrative Services is responsible for the law enforcement records management, evidence, technology, community outreach, Familiar Faces, the Crisis response Teams, policy, corrections, and Department finances.

Operations Budget

Operations is responsible for the police patrol program, the detective unit, hiring and training, community policing, neighborhood officers, walking patrol, K9, school resource, and traffic officers.

Recruitment and hiring

The Olympia Police Department is committed to hiring a diverse team of employees that reflects the our community. OPD participates in various job fairs and hiring events across the state, with heavy emphasis in the South Puget Sound, with focus on representing a diverse population.

The Olympia Police Department participates in recruitment at Public Safety Testing locations, community events, military job fairs, and high school and college career fairs. OPD recruiting materials are also designed to promote inclusiveness and help potential applicants see themselves as members of our team.

The hiring process is designed to ensure our employees represent the values of the City of Olympia. Candidates must successfully complete each step of the process before progressing onto the next. The steps involved include:

  • Written test
  • Physical ability test
  • Suitability assessment
  • Oral review board (interview by a panel of community members and law enforcement officers)
  • Background investigation of applicant
  • Interview with Police Chief
  • Conditional offer of employment
  • Psychological evaluation by a psychologist
  • Medical examination
  • Polygraph Interview
  • Final employment offer

After successfully completing these steps, candidates must graduate from the academy and pass on-site field training. In addition, there is a probationary period from 12 to 18 months to ensure they demonstrate the character and integrity expected of our full-time employees.

If you’re interested in joining our team you can apply at publicsafetytesting.com

Hiring data

 

 

Olympia Police Department policies

The Olympia Police Department’s policies are continually updated to ensure the department’s practices are consistent with 21st century policing standards and the high standards of the community we serve.

You can also view all Olympia Police Department policies

 

Messages from the Chief