Know Your Rights

Local, state, and federal laws protect your rights against abuse by the police. By providing this information, OPA wants to ensure that you know your rights when interacting with the Seattle Police Department so that you can be safe and confident that your City government is serving you.

If you are concerned by how you were treated in an interaction with SPD, please file a complaint.

  • Identify themselves and provide their names/badge numbers, if requested

  • Record all stops, detentions, searches, and arrests on body-cam; advise you they're doing so

  • Provide the reason for the stop or detention

  • Be courteous and professional

  • Document the stop and give you written documentation when it's over, such as a business card, ticket, or written warning

  • Request a supervisor come to the scene if you feel that you have been profiled based on race, sex or gender identity, LGBTQ identity, age, or other protected category

  • Call a supervisor if you have a complaint about how you have been treated or if you were placed in handcuffs

  • Assist any person who wants to file a complaint 

Limitations: This document applies to interactions with the Seattle Police Department, but not necessarily to other law enforcement agencies. These scenarios are not mutually exclusive and may overlap - for example, police might enter a residence based on exigent circumstances, and then detain the occupants of the residence based upon reasonable suspicion of a crime.

By providing this information, OPA is not giving legal advice. Most of these situations depend on specific facts and circumstances. It is always safest to ask a lawyer about specific issues. If you need legal assistance, please contact the King County Bar Association via the Lawyer Referral Service form or seek out free legal advice at a Neighborhood Legal Clinic.