The Patrol Division, under the command of Captain Ed Wade, is staffed by five Lieutenants, 26 Sergeants, 15 Patrol Specialists, and 160 Patrol and Traffic Officers. The Patrol Division facilitates law enforcement patrol coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with three overlapping shifts. On average, there are approximately 21 Officers patrolling Tacoma at any given time. The city is divided into four sectors comprised of approximately five officers per sector, which emphasizes a Community Oriented Policing philosophy. In order to maintain safe neighborhoods, citizens must work collaboratively with the Police Department in life safety and crime resolution.
Each Patrol Officer responds to approximately 20 calls per shift and writes approximately six reports. Reports are generated electronically by Officers while in the field using mobile laptop computers in their vehicle, thereby maximizing their presence in the neighborhoods. Extreme detail and accuracy is critical in reporting as this will be a record of evidence used to charge and prosecute suspects.
Patrol Officers may be called upon to use a variety of tools and assets throughout the course of a day including motorcycle, vehicle, bicycle, and waterborne resources. In short, Officers respond to many different types of calls which are classified into one of three dispatch types:
Routine Response - there is no current threat and no suspect present. The officer will respond in the normal course of activity.
Priority Response - a suspect is at or near the scene. The officer will respond immediately, making an effort to reach the scene promptly, but will generally not use lights or siren.
Emergency Response - an immediate threat exists and is used only when a crime is in progress or a life is threatened. The officer will respond immediately, making an effort to reach the scene promptly, making full use of lights and siren.
The Tacoma Police Department seeks to keep the peace and maintain order throughout our community. As a Values-Based organization, we recognize education and mutual compliance can solve many problems and avoid arrests. If, and when, a crisis or problem can be resolved, or compliance gained without arrest, that is the preferred approach, coupled with education for future avoidance. In domestic disputes where there is evidence of violence, threats or destruction of property, State law mandates an arrest be made. Police are trained to be professional, polite but firm, communicate clearly, encourage voluntary compliance, and to use force only as necessary to enforce the law.