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Police and Law Enforcement Services Organization and Management

This page focuses on organization and management issues of interest to police and local law enforcement, including strategic planning, advisory boards, police reserve programs, and public records.


Establishing strong leadership in a police department is integral to a healthy tenure for a police chief. The resources below can help chiefs prepare themselves and their departments.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is essential for long-term success. The amount of external stakeholders and internal departmental personnel involved in the planning process, and the degree to which they are involved, will vary according to the size of the department and its organizational attributes.

Examples of Strategic Plans

Provisions Establishing Police Departments

The Washington State examples below are ordinances for establishing a police department. For those local governments deciding whether to start their own police departments, we recommend Guidelines for Starting and Operating a New Police Department, from the Office of Commmunity Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice. The guide is relevant for rural, suburban, and urban communities of all sizes and can assist communities in thoughtfully considering the major issues involved in starting a police department

Police Advisory and Review Boards

Advisory or Review Boards are all-volunteer groups whose members contribute their time and talents to promote public safety, form a liaison between the community and the police department, and assist in educating the community for a better understanding of the respective responsibilities of police and citizens. For information on citizen oversight of local law enforcement, see Citizen Review of Police: Approaches and Implementation, publsihed in 2001 by the National Institute of Justice.

Examples of Ordinances Establishing Advisory or Review Boards

Examples of Advisory or Review Boards

Police Reserves

A reserve police officer (also known as an auxiliary officer) is either a volunteer or paid worker, depending on the circumstance and the department for which they work. They perform law enforcement duties in their community. 

Examples of Ordinances Establishing Reserve Units

Examples of Reserve Units

Public Records Management and Disclosure

Like all other units of local government, police and sheriff departments are subject to the Public Records Act and must disclose certain documents if requested. Below are resources to assist to help police and sheriff departments in Washington State manage their records and comply with disclosure and retention requirements.


Sample Public Records Requests for Police Departments

Last Modified: January 02, 2020