Officer taking a report

Patrol Officer

Our patrol division is the heart of our department. From the North Precinct, which is home to the University of Washington and the bulk of our city’s residents; to our East Precinct, which features wonderful cultural and ethnic diversity, to our West Precinct, which is Downtown Seattle and nearby neighborhoods; to our South Precinct which borders Lake Washington and wonderful Rainier Valley neighborhoods; to our Southwest Precinct, which is home to the West Seattle neighborhood, the people who patrol our nearly 84 square-mile city see a little bit of everything.

Critical skills you'll need

Crisis Response

Policework, in general, entails coming in contact with people on their worst of days. Grief, anxiety and stress are often the emotions and mental state of the people our officers come in contact with, which is why every sworn member of our department receives regular training on how to best help people in crisis. Every officer takes Crisis Intervention Training courses and collaborate with members of our more specialized Crisis Response Team as well as with Mental Health Professionals. Whether responding to a 911 call, trying to connect with someone in clear crisis or engaging in a follow-up call it is the goal of our department to treat every person we meet with dignity and respect as well as help connect people with valuable solutions and resources.  


Safety and awareness are crucial for any driver, and for our officers these traits are nothing to take lightly. Every one of our officers receives top-notch drivers training while studying at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. Our officers also receive refresher courses regularly.  

What to expect


Patrol Officers work to become well-acquainted with the area they are assigned to and the community members they serve within their patrol beat.  

There are three shifts patrol officers work: 

  • First Watch: 04:00 - 14:00 (4 a.m.- 2 p.m.) 
  • Second Watch: 11:00 - 21:00 (11 a.m.- 9 p.m.) 
  • Third Watch: 19:00 - 05:00 (7 p.m. - 5 a.m.) 

Photo of office with downtown in the background

"Patrol is the life blood of all law enforcement, but nowhere is it more valued than here at the Seattle Police Department. Nationally recognized as a leader in training and tactics, our officers provide top-tier services to the communities they serve; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." - Assistant Chief Tom Mahaffey


Opportunities after Patrol

Every Seattle Police officer starts their career in our patrol bureau, it's the heart of our entire department. After working a minimum of five years in patrol, officers are eligible to take the sergeants exam. After three to five years in patrol, officers can apply to become a detective in one of our specialty units. Being a public safety agency in one of America's largest cities, the Seattle Police Department offers its officers a wide array of job opportunities. From the Harbor Unit, to Traffic Enforcement and Traffic Collision Investigation, to Major Crimes, to Crisis Intervention, to the Arson/ Bomb Squad, to K9 and SWAT, to Training and Crime Scene Investigation,  no other police department in Washington State has the same range of opportunities. 

The Arson Bomb Squad is a full-time unit focused on investigating suspicious fires and explosions. The unit is comprised of 13 officers and three explosive detection dogs. The Arson Bomb Squad conducts sweeps before major sporting events, dignitary visits, concerts and other major events in search of explosives or other potential threats. The officers are also part of task force with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Seattle Fire Department.

The Seattle Police Department Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit consists of six detectives and one sergeant who assist our criminal investigations bureau in investigating homicides, violent crimes and high-value property crimes. Members of the CSI team do the intricate work of processing crime scenes and identifying, photographing and collecting evidence. These officers use the newest and most advanced technologies to help solve cases.

The Traffic Unit consists of three motorcycle squads. Officers selected for these squads have three main focuses: enforcement of all traffic laws in support of the City of Seattle's Vision Zero Effort, which is a goal centered on ending all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by the year 2030; dignitary escorts; and traffic control during sports, parades, concerts and other major events.

The Seattle Police Department Harbor Unit is the only 24-hour per day police marine unit in the Pacific Northwest. Members of our Harbor Unit are responsible for patrolling the city's lakes and waterways - some 200 miles of shoreline, 147 miles of freshwater and 53 miles of saltwater. The Harbor unit consists of 22 full-time officers who are trained in search and rescue, deep water dives and investigating water-related accidents and collisions. These officers perform boat safety inspections, respond to boat fires and ensure boater safety by removing debris and other hazards from the water.

The Seattle Police Department's Crisis Response Team (CRT) consists of five full-time officers and five licensed Mental Health Professionals dedicated to helping people experiencing behavioral health issues. The CRT both responds to 911 calls for service and are responsible for following up with people in crisis, connecting them with valuable community-based services. This holistic, non-traditional, approach is a unique and important way for law enforcement to help our community's most vulnerable residents.

The Seattle Police Department's investigations bureau handles in-depth investigations into crimes against people and property. From burglary, to homicide, to sexual assault and child abuse. From internet crimes against children, to hate and bias crimes. From domestic-violence, to gang-related violence and much more. This unit consists of hundreds of detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and captains.

1,343 Sworn Officers

  • Seattle's 911 center receives nearly 800,000 calls per year.
  • Officer proactively engage in more than 200 incidents per day.
  • Officers respond to an average of 500 calls for service per day.

83.9 Square Miles

  • Seattle is one of the most densely populated U.S. cities.
  • Our patrol division is broken into five precincts spread throughout Seattle.
  • Major companies, tourist attractions, neighborhoods and natural beauty- Seattle has it all.

40" Avg. yearly rainfall

  • Cool winters - about 5 inches of snow during an average year.
  • Sunny days - more than 150 days of sun during an average year.
  • We think the weather here is perfect.


Sue Rahr, Interim 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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The Seattle Police Department (SPD) prevents crime, enforces laws, and supports quality public safety by delivering respectful, professional, and dependable police services. SPD operates within a framework that divides the city into five geographical areas called "precincts".